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Chateau d Ussontourist information guide
Address: Château d'Usson, Usson-les-Bains, 09460
Tel: + 33 (0)4 68 20 43 92
Opening Times: Daily in Jul/Aug & pms and w'ends rest of yr | Admission Charge
Chateau d'Usson, along with the majority of the other chateaux in the Ariege, played an important role in Cathar history.
Chateau d'Usson is set high up on an isolated rocky promontory looking out over the confluence of the La Bryante and the Aude. During the siege of Montsegur, Cathars decided that their money and possessions needed to be protected from French invasion. In December 1243, two Cathars slipped past the French defences carrying with them the renowned treasure and riches of the Cathar church. The story goes that they hid the treasure in a nearby cave. The night before Montsegur finally surrendered, four Bons Hommes or good Cathar Christians left Montsegur to recover the treasure.
Only two of the four survived, eventually arriving at a Cathar community in Italy. However, they did stop off at Chateau d'Usson en route so a huge question mark hangs over Chateau d'Usson. Is the illusive Cathar treasure buried somewhere within the castle?
Chateau d'Usson remained a Cathar stronghold throughout the Crusade. Bernard d'Alion, owner of Chateau d'Usson paid dearly for his allegiance to the Cathar's cause. He was burnt at the stake in 1258.
Thereafter, Chateau d'Usson became a frontier fortress. Chateau d'Usson was rebuilt in 18th century by a wealthy local aristocrat. After the Revolution, Chateau d'Usson was sold and turned into a quarry - the remains of which are seen today.
Restoration work has begun and there is a museum of archaeology and local history in the adjacent building.