Libéria Fort

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Libéria Fort was built in 1681 and offers a splendid view of the Têt Valley.

A fortified town at the bottom of a valley Guillem-Ramon, the Count de Cerdagne, built the small fortified town of Villefranche-de-Conflent at the confluence of the Têt and Corneilla Rivers on the road to the Pyrenees in the late 11th century.

  • Libéria Fort

    Libéria Fort. Source: Photo ECPAD

Source: MINDEF/SGA/DMPA

In the 12th century, eight corner towers reinforced the town's fortifications, which received a new defensive system in the 14th century during the war between the kingdom of Majorca and Aragon. The 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees definitively attached Villefranche-de-Conflent and Roussillon to the kingdom of France. The town on the valley floor has preserved its distinguished past in the Conflent capital, an outstanding monumental complex built of pink marble. A superb medieval town lies tucked away behind Villefranche-de-Conflent's ramparts, offering visitors a vaulted sentry walk, 11th-century Romanesque church and approximately 20 house façades listed as historic monuments. The town ramparts are still standing: neo-Classical gates and the bastions that Vauban built around 1680 have joined the medieval curtain walls and towers. In the late 18th century Villefranche-de-Conflent lost its importance, in particular after the provost was moved to Prades in 1773.
A fort built on a mountainside As part of his mission to strengthen the defences of Roussillon, which now formed the kingdom of France's southern borders, Vauban, Louis XIV's chief military architect, stayed in Villefranche-de-Conflent to build a fort intended to protect the area from assaults from Vallespir and Cerdagne. To prevent the bombardment of Villefranche-de-Conflent from Belloch Mountain, in 1681 Vauban had Libéria Fort built atop a 160-meter high spur overlooking the town, offering a splendid view of the Têt Valley. The oblong mountainside fort is made up of three successive walls on three levels in order to hug to the steep slopes. A keep stands in the upper part of the fort, preceded by a moat defended by a reverse fire counterscarp gallery communicating with the main body by two caponiers. The fort has a sentry walk, arrow slits, bartizans (projecting watch turrets), a drawbridge and a main courtyard with a chapel opening out on to it. Under Louis XIV, two accomplices of La Voisin, the poisoner of the court of Versailles, were jailed in the fort's dungeon, called the "ladies' prison". Libéria Fort underwent the trials of war in the late 18th century, surrendering on 3 August 1793 to Spanish troops after the capitulation of Villefranche-de-Conflent. Between 1850 and 1856 Napoleon III decided to strengthen the fort and had the underground passageway built known as the "thousand steps", which connects it to Villefranche-de-Conflent. Visitors can still take this stone-vaulted tunnel with pink marble stairs, but it actually only has 754 steps!
In the surrounding area Three prehistoric caves are open to the public near the village of Villefranche-de-Conflent: Grandes Canalettes, the old Canalettes and the Cova Bastera (prehistoric cave), which Vauban fortified in 1707. The famous little yellow train leaves from Villefranche-de-Conflent railway station and winds its way up through the Pyrenees all the way to the border town of La-Tour-de-Carol.
How to get there Perpignan is 50km away on the N 116. Villefranche-de-Conflent Tourist Office Place de l'Église 66500 Villefranche-de-Conflent Tel. +33 (0)4.68.96.22.96 Fax +33 (0)4.68.96.23.23 & 04.68.96.23.93 E-mail: villefranchedeconflent@voila.fr

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