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Atmospheric Quèribus

October 20, 2014

About ten kilometers from Chateau d’Aguilar, outside the charming town of Cucugnan (which itself was established in the late 10th century), Quèribus looks like it was carved from the mountain on which it is perched. If the drive to Aguilar was memorable, the trip to Quèribus is nothing short of breathtaking. In this short distance the mountains rose higher, and the bright day was giving way to intermittent clouds casting a thin grey shawl over their shoulders. From time to time, as I rounded one more hairpin turn, a magnificent vista would open up, the clouds and haze creating layers of atmospheric perspective.

But, alors, eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel (except when I was downshifting, which was pretty much continuously), keeping to my own side of the snaking road slicing its way through the Corbières. No place to stop for photos; I’ll just have to commit those scenes to memory.


Considerably larger than Aguilar, Quèribus is daunting, even when you reach the visitor center at the end of the long road up. It’s a ten-minute trek up a steep rocky path, which morphs into stairs further up, and my heart rate was definitely racing by the time I conquered the first stage of ramparts. This virtual aerie rises 728 meters (nearly 2800 feet), and is perched on the bony spine of the mountain ridge.

The further you climb, the stronger the wind. There were quite a few visitors, most from a tour bus parked at the visitor center; otherwise, the threatening clouds and strengthening wind would themselves have made my heart race. You can appreciate how quickly the weather can change up here.

Panorama                    Vertical Panorama

On a clear day you can see all the way to the Pyrenees to the west (nearly 100 kilometers) and east to the Mediterranean, perhaps 50 kilometers, but not today.

The numerous rooms are well-marked, and an audio guide helps navigate the ruin, which attained its current size over four centuries of expansion.  It was the last chateau to fall to the crusaders, in 1255, and later, as one of the “five sons of Carcassonne,” guarded the Franco-Aragon border till the mid-1600s. Of the seven sites I’ve seen, this is the most magnificent.

I’ve been asking myself, who were the architects of these amazing fortresses?

Rocky Spine

From → Solo travel

  1. Katherine Matheson permalink

    These pictures are incredible!

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