St. Étienne Castle

St. Étienne Castle, locally known as Château Saint-Étienne, lies in the town of Aurillac, in the Cantal department in France.

St. Étienne Castle was founded in the 9th century on a hill, beneath which later the town of Aurillac would grow. At that time the castle was probably just a palisaded enclosure with a tower. Of that first castle only the base of the keep remains. The square, stone keep itself was built in the 12th century and was originally 32 meters high.

Around 855 the castle was the birthplace of Saint Gerald of Aurillac, who founded the Benedictine Aurillac Abbey in 895. After his death, around 909, he bequeathed the castle to the abbey, after which the castle would become the residence of the abbots.

During the centuries the abbots had a troublesome relationship with the town and the castle was taken and destroyed several times by the town's inhabitants. During the Hundred Years' War the castle was occupied by the English.

St. Étienne Castle was restored by the abbot, after it had been destroyed again by Huguenots in 1569. The keep, which had remained intact all these centuries, was reduced by 12 meters in 1747. For this Cardinal de Gesvres had obtained permission from the French king, Louis XV.

During the French Revolution, the castle was confiscated and sold as national property. The buyer was Madame la Marquise de Fontange, niece of the abbot at that time. In the first half of the 19th century it was sold several times, before ownership of the castle returned to the bishopric in 1845. Since 1837 it had housed a school for teachers, a function it would keep until 1940.

In 1868 the castle, which had had been in a state of disrepair, was destroyed by a large fire. Again only the keep survived. During the next 30 years it was rebuilt by the French architect Juste Lisch. He gave the castle its present appearance, using the Palais des Papes in Avignon as inspiration in commemoration of Pope Sylvester II, the first French pope to whom a statue had been erected nearby.

At present St. Étienne Castle houses the 'Muséum des Volcans' and municipal offices. The keep itself can not be visited. A strange combination; this medieval keep with a castellated 19th century building.


Gallery

St. Étienne Castle

St. Étienne Castle, locally known as Château Saint-Étienne, lies in the town of Aurillac, in the Cantal department in France.

St. Étienne Castle was founded in the 9th century on a hill, beneath which later the town of Aurillac would grow. At that time the castle was probably just a palisaded enclosure with a tower. Of that first castle only the base of the keep remains. The square, stone keep itself was built in the 12th century and was originally 32 meters high.

Around 855 the castle was the birthplace of Saint Gerald of Aurillac, who founded the Benedictine Aurillac Abbey in 895. After his death, around 909, he bequeathed the castle to the abbey, after which the castle would become the residence of the abbots.

During the centuries the abbots had a troublesome relationship with the town and the castle was taken and destroyed several times by the town's inhabitants. During the Hundred Years' War the castle was occupied by the English.

St. Étienne Castle was restored by the abbot, after it had been destroyed again by Huguenots in 1569. The keep, which had remained intact all these centuries, was reduced by 12 meters in 1747. For this Cardinal de Gesvres had obtained permission from the French king, Louis XV.

During the French Revolution, the castle was confiscated and sold as national property. The buyer was Madame la Marquise de Fontange, niece of the abbot at that time. In the first half of the 19th century it was sold several times, before ownership of the castle returned to the bishopric in 1845. Since 1837 it had housed a school for teachers, a function it would keep until 1940.

In 1868 the castle, which had had been in a state of disrepair, was destroyed by a large fire. Again only the keep survived. During the next 30 years it was rebuilt by the French architect Juste Lisch. He gave the castle its present appearance, using the Palais des Papes in Avignon as inspiration in commemoration of Pope Sylvester II, the first French pope to whom a statue had been erected nearby.

At present St. Étienne Castle houses the 'Muséum des Volcans' and municipal offices. The keep itself can not be visited. A strange combination; this medieval keep with a castellated 19th century building.


Gallery