Historic Collioure

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Political Geography of the Languedoc: The Pyrénées-Orientales département . The département is divided into 3 arrondissements: Céret, Perpignan and Prades. There are 29 cantons, of which 21 are separate towns.

Collioure is a port on the Mediterranean Sea a few kilometers north of the Spanish border in the French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales, corresponding to the ancient Roussillon and part of the present-day Languedoc-Roussillon région. It lies on the Côte Vermeille, part of the Gulf of Lyon.

It is an atractive port with anunusually large number of art galleries.

In the XIIth century it was part of the Kindom of Majorca, along with the rest of the Roussillon. There is still a spectacular Royal Palace here. It was later taken over by the Kings of Aragon, who had originally created the Kingdom of Majorca.

Collioure was once two villages separate villages, divided by the Douy river. The old town was named Port d'Aval (today known as Le Faubourg) in the south and the upstream port, Port d'Amont (now called La Ville).

The town was taken by the French troops under Maréchal de la Meilleraye in 1642. A decade later, the town was formally surrendered to France by the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees. Because of its strategic importance, the town's fortifications, including the Fort Saint-Elme, were improved by the military engineer de Vauban during the reign of Louis XIV, part of a vast network of fortifications protecting the new Spanish border. The bay, sandwiched between two small fishing ports, is dominated by a fortress built by de Vauban.

Collioure was besieged and occupied by Spanish troops in 1793 - to date the last Spanish attempt to recover the city. It was retaken by the French a year later under general Jacques François Dugommier.

In the early 1900s Collioure became a centre of artistic activity, with several Fauvist artists selecting it as their favourite place to paint. Other artists were attracted too. Among them were André Derain, Georges Braque, Othon Friesz, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Tsuguharu Fujita and Salvadore Dali.

Collioure became the home of the Fauvist Mouvement because of the rare quality of the light. As Matisse, said "No sky in all France is more blue than that of Collioure". Since 1994 ”Le chemin du Fauvisme” has used the works of Matisse and Derain to illustrate 20 th century art in this small Catalan harbour. Copies of 20 works from Matisse and Derain are placed around the town at the spots from which the originals were painted, allowing viewers to compare the painting to the present view. The town is still popular with artists. Shame about the pink suburbs and numbers of tourists in high season.

Visit the bar of Les Templiers to see original works on the walls - that's how the artists paid their driniks bills. Website: Art lovers can combine a trip here with one to the Picasso Museum in neary Céret.

Some things to visit:

3-day August 15th celebration, involving bodégas and fireworkswhich, which attracts twice its normal population in visitors.
Royal Castle
medieval streets
The Fauvisme Path (Le Chemin du Fauvisme)
Notre-Dame-des-Anges, a lighthouse- converted into a church, Mediterranean bay .

Collioure's cemetery contains the tomb of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, who fled here to escape General Francos troops at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. The historical novelist Patrick O'Brian and his wife Mary are also buried here. O'Brien lived in the town from 1949 until his death in 2000. His novel "The Catalans" graphically describes Collioure life before it became a tourist hot-spot.

Collioure is also the name of an AOC wine similar to the more famous Banyuls.

The town has a strong Catalan culture. Its motto is the same as that of the local Catalan rugby team (Sempre endavant, mai morirem) - Always Forward, We'll Never Die.

Art lovers may wish to visit another Roussillon town with a strong artistic history. Cubists such as Picasso, Bracque and Gris, along with Matisse, Chagall, and Dali, favoured the nearby town of Céret.

History of the Castle of Collioure[edit]The Château is the juxtaposition of at least 4 castles.

Roussillon was conquered by the Romans around 120 BC and the occupied by the Visigoths from 418. The first mention is about a fortified site in Collioure under siege in 673, by Wamba, king of the Visigoths who lay siege to the “Castellum Caucolibéri” to subdue a rebellion.

Castle of the Templars[edit]In the 12th century, Girard II, the last independent count of the Roussillon, bequeathed his land to Alfons II, King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona. Concerned about the prosperity of Collioure, the kings of Aragon granted privileges and tax exemptions. An annual fair was established, and important works were undertaken in the castle, the port and the town. The Knights Templar built the castle around 1207 and integrated it to the royal castle in 1345.

Kings of Majorca[edit]A second one was later built by the Kings of Majorca, over a period in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 13th century, the Castle was annexed to the Kingdom of Majorca, which included the domain of Montpellier, the earldoms of the Roussillon and Cerdanya, the Conflent and Vallespir, and the Balearic Islands. The Kings of Majorca were itinerant. They travelled with their court. they moved frequently from Maguelonne, near Montpellier, to Perpignan, to Palma de Majorca or to Collioure.

Habsburg fortress: Charles Quint and Philip II[edit]In the 16th century, after a brief occupation by Louis XI, the Spanish Habsburgs, starting with Charles Quint, again occupied Collioure. He and his son Philip II turned the Castle into a modern fortress of the 16th century. It was imperative that the fortifications were adapted in line with the advances in artillery, and so the castle defences and its surroundings were considerably reinforced.[2]

Bourbon citadel[edit]In the 17th century Collioure was at stake in the wars between the Spanish Habsburgs and the French Bourbons. In 1642, Louis XIII's troops lay siege to Collioure and the Château Royal. Ten thousand men including Turenne, d'Artagnan and the King's musketeers occupied the hills overlooking the town, while the French fleet blocked the port. Deprived of water due to the destruction of their wells, the Spanish were forced to surrender. In 1659, France annexed the Roussillon and Collioure and the castle passed definitively into French hands. Vauban built the bastions, reinforced the structure and upgraded Fort Saint-Elme (fr).[3]

The Roussillon war[edit]
General DugommierIn 1793, the Spanish again besieged and occupied Collioure, which General Dugommier took back the next year. He captured Fort Saint-Elme on 25 May and forced the Spanish general Eugenio Navarro to surrender the next day.[4]

The 20th century[edit] This section requires expansion. (May 2010)

Fort Saint-Elme was sold at auction in August 1913. The castle was designated an historic monument in 1922. The Castle was turned into a men's prison in March 1939 and became the first disciplinary camp for the Spanish refugees of the Retirada, the exile from the Spanish Civil War. Many others were sent to the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer and Rivesaltes. After 1941 French detainees, were prisoners of the Vichy regime. The prison received men sentenced for indiscipline, attempted escape and incitement to rebellion from the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer, Saint-Cyprien and Le Barcarès. The detainees transited there before being sent to North Africa.[4]

Property of the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales, since 1951, it is one of the major touristic spot in Northern Catalonia.[5]

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References[edit]Eugène Cortade, Le Château royal de Collioure - Fondation de Collioure, 1987, ASIN B000XEVCD2
Grégory Tuban, Les séquestrés de Collioure : Un camp disciplinaire au Château royal en 1939 - Mare nostrum, 2003, ISBN 2-908476-31-2 External links[edit] Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Château royal de Collioure

Château Royal de Collioure - Visiting information Official page on the Website of the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales

[hide]v •t •eVisitor attractions in Pyrénées-Orientales

Camp de Rivesaltes •Canigou •Château Royal de Collioure •Elne Cathedral •Fort de Bellegarde •Fort de Salses •Gate of the Catalan Countries •GR 10 •Ligne de Cerdagne •Martin-du-Canigou •Mont-Louis Solar Furnace •Musée d'Art Moderne de Céret •Palace of the Kings of Majorca •Paulilles •Perpignan Cathedral •Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa •Serrabone Priory •Themis solar power plant •Vermilion Coast Tracks •Villefranche-de-Conflent

Coordinates: 42°31'32.0?N 3°5'4.5?E / 42.525556°N 3.084583°E / 42.525556; 3.084583

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