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Chateau de Montanertourist information guide
Address: Château de Montaner, 64460
Tel: +33 (0)5 59 81 98 29
Opening Times: Daily. Closed Nov-Apr | Admission Charge
Chateau de Montaner is the work of Gaston Phoebus, the Pyreneen Prince who dreamt of a Pyreneen state but never quite realised it.
At more than 40m high, the donjon is a perfect square (a medieval symbol of harmony). You'll see high up on a flagstone above the drawbridge an inscription "Febus me Fe" which is a testament to his wealth and power
It's not hard to see why Phoebus wanted an impregnable fortress to be built here. Chateau de Montaner has great views out over the Bearn, Armagnac and Bigorre regions enabling him to protect his lands from powerful neighbouring lords.
Phoebus was known as the man who brought about independence for the Bearn region. He also spent most of his life trying to unify the surrounding Pyreneen lands from Foix to Orthez. However, his cousin, the Count of Armagnac wanted possession of Bigorre. The battle of Launac in 1362 resulted in the defeat of the Count of Armagnac.
Having acquired great wealth from the Count, Phoebus now plied his money into the construction of a fortress at Montaner which began in 1373/4 and continued until 1380.
Sicart de Lordat, a local architect was commissioned to build Chateau de Montaner and he used red brick instead of more traditional stone. This allowed building work to continue at a rapid pace and was a method used for his some of his other constructions (see Chateau de Morlanne).
A deep motte surrounded Chateau de Montaner and the only access to the castle was via a drawbridge. Many an adversary came to a sorry end here. Chateau de Montaner was built to house a garrison and only traces remain today of the kitchen, sleeping quarters and bakery.
During the Wars of Religion, Chateau de Montaner was used by the Protestants as a hideout. Since then, Chateau de Montaner has seen many owners, not all of whom have respected the castle's original function and architectural style.
However, restoration work began in the 1970 which means you can enjoy some of the Chateau's former glory today.