Château de Belcastel
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The Château de Belcastel is a medieval castle in the village and commune of Belcastel, in the Aveyron département of France. It is situated above the north bank of the Aveyron River, downstream from Rodez. The oldest part of the castle was constructed in the 9th century, and it grew in the hands of the Belcastel family. Later, for many decades, it was the seat of the famed Saunhac family.
The Château de Belcastel was officially declared a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture in 1928. The famous French architect Fernand Pouillon (1912-1986) discovered the castle in ruins in 1974. Pouillon decided to reconstruct the fortress, which had been abandoned since at least the 17th century. Pouillon himself undertook the restoration by hand, along with the help of a dozen Algerian stonemasons, and 10 stained-glass experts. The work lasted only eight years and called for great courage from him and his colleagues, due to the size of the undertaking, the castle's dangerous location, and the fact that no machines were used in the daring reconstruction.
The Château de Belcastel remained the private residence of Pouillon until he died in Belcastel on 24 July 1986. In 2005, the two owners of the AFA Gallery in New York purchased the château and opened it to the public as both a gallery and a historical monument. They have embellished the interior with medieval artifacts and created art galleries within the château, while allowing the medieval fortress and remarkable architecture to remain undisturbed. In 2017, the owner Heidi Leigh created the Heritage of Fernand Pouillon Association to make projects about art and architecture with family, friends and fans of Pouillon. In the same year, the French Ministry of Culture honoured her with a medal, and the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, for her efforts in bringing art, music and masterclasses to France through AFA Gallery to the Chateau de Belcastel.
The Château de Belcastel is one of a group of 23 castles in Aveyron which have joined together to provide a tourist itinerary as La Route des Seigneurs du Rouergue.
- Official site
- Ministry of Culture database entry for Château de Belcastel (in French)
- Ministry of Culture photos
- La Route des Seigneurs du Rouergue (in French)
- Ségala Belcastel
- Club des sites
- Fernand Pouillon Association