High up in the Corbières Hills lies Peyrepertuse, a Cathar castle that was once as large as Carcassonne. Occupied since Roman times, the site is 800 metres above sea level and dominates the surrounding landscape. The castle is part of the Five Sons of Carcassonne with the castles of Quéribus, Puilaurens, Termes and Aguilar.
Peyrepertuse is largely in ruins today, but many of the walls are still standing and visitors get a good idea of its former grandeur. The site is an Historic Monument of France and a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Peyrepertuse became a French stronghold in 1240. King Louis IX built a new castle in 1242 on the western esplanade to strengthen the site. Peyrepertruse effectively guarded the border with Spain for centuries, until the end of the war between France and Spain in 1659.
Every year in August Peyrepertuse hosts the largest medieval festival in the south of France. For more information on visiting Peyrepertuse and its events, visit www.peyrepertuse.com
Peyrepertuse welcomes around 100,000 visitors a year. It is reached by road. A car park is located just below the cliff, from where visitors walk about 15 minutes along a steep path to get to the ancient monument itself. For brave bikers and hikers, a path goes up to Peyrepertuse from the village of Duilhac.
Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois to Peyrepertuse is a 52 mile (84 km) journey south by car, which takes about 90 minutes. It can be combined with the very picturesque village of Cucugnan or last Cathar stronghold to fall, Quéribus.