15th-century house in Puycelsi
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Henry Féral|
|Area1||39.2 km2 (15.1 sq mi)|
|• Density||13/km2 (34/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||81217 / 81140|
|Elevation||132–367 m (433–1,204 ft)
(avg. 280 m or 920 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
It is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The Most Beautiful Villages of France") association. It has 463 inhabitants in 2013.
The village lies in the western part of the commune, high above the right bank of the Vère, which flows northwestward through the commune.
The name of "Puycelci", or "Puycelsi", comes from the Celtic "Celto Dun", a wooden fortress built on a hill, or oppidum, later transformed into "Podium Celsium" by the Romans.
The village itself was founded in the 10th century by Benedictine Monks from the Aurillac Abbey, in a location close to the ancient prehistoric site.
The first castle was dismantled after the Treaty of Meaux-Paris, in 1229, but the village remained a stronghold. Though it was besieged several times in the 13th and 14th century, it was reportedly never taken by force.
Until the First World War, the village was quite prosperous, with a population of nearly 2,000 in 1830. Almost abandoned in the 1950s, it was since then restored by its inhabitants and is now listed among the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”.
Remarkable monuments in the village include :
- the 14th century ramparts, and the Irissou Gate with its double defensive system
- the St-Roch Chapel, built in 1703
- the 15th-century castle
- 15th-and-16th-century houses, including the town hall
- the 14th-15th-century St-Corneille Church, with classified well-preserved ancient furnitures
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