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Castelnaudary

Castelnaudary is an historic and gastronomic capital overlooking the Lauragais plain. Stroll down the little streets and discover a rich heritage.

HISTORY

Castelnaudary is mentioned in a document from 1118 under the name ‘Castellum Novum Arri’ ie the new castle of Arius. The town was built around this castle (now the Lauragais Museum). Castelnaudary became a strategic stronghold during the crusade against the Cathares. In 1211, it fell into the hands of the Croisés, then in 1221 it was taken over by the Comte de Toulouse.
In 1355, in the midst of the Hundred Years War, the town was burnt down by the Black Prince, son of King Edward III of England. The Lauragais region and its capital was not at peace until the reign of Henri II of France. His wife, Catherine de Medici, became countess of Lauragais and made Castelnaudary the seat of a Sénéchaussée, an administrative and judicial district. She built the Présidial, a civil and criminal court, that attracted many lawyers and judges from Toulouse.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the town witnessed an episode during the Fronde. In 1632, a terrible battle took place below the town. The Duke of Montmorency was captured and beheaded at the Capitol. The 17th century also saw the creation of the Canal Royal du Languedoc, now called the Canal du Midi .

Pierre Paul Riquet, its brilliant inventor, made Castelnaudary an important port by developing the (7 ha) Grand Bassin there. During the Revolution, Castelnaudary became sub-prefecture of Aude, a title that it lost in 1926 to Carcassonne. Since 1976, the town has hosted the Foreign Legion and remains the capital of Lauragais and Cassoulet.

HERITAGE

Stroll through the heart of the old town and be surprised by some hidden monuments… The Halle de Verdun, the former Carmelite convent, the mansions, the old Grand Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville and the Impasse des Boutiquiers are all examples to discover during a stroll through town! The Place de Verdun was developed during the last expansion of the town when it was declared a Bastide in 1366. A hall for covered markets and the herb market was built in the centre of this new square, there were also the weights and measures office. Renovated and restored many times, it is now an attractive setting for the many shops around the edge, with its fountain and centuries-old plane trees. The Hôtel Latapie (Grand Rue) was one of those beautiful 17th century mansions. It is now a nursery school. The monumental entrance door is worth a look, its carved wooden leaves are listed as Historic Monuments. Above the door lintel we can see the Castelnaudary coat of arms: three large crenellated towers inspired by the town’s seal, accompanied by three fleurs-de-lis, which are symbols of royalty. Under the coat of arms, a woman’s face wearing a Phrygian cap (partly broken) has been added. This figure represents the Republic.
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