"About the Cathars" Carcassonne by Elisabcn

Carcassonne Travel Guide: 490 reviews and 1,417 photos


The bloody crusades that were waged against the Cathars during the 12th century swept through the ancient civilisation of the Langue d'Oc: a civilisation of troubadours, courtly love, tolerance and democracy before its time, leaving behind them only ruin. These places steeped in history and left mysterious fortress and lovely cittadels. The mountains, my dear Pirineus and its grottos, have something to do about this topic too.

But who were the Cathars and the Catharism?

Catharism was the last range of a long social and cultural development started in the far-off Persia, with Zoroaster, and took root in Languedoc (a region that during the Middle Ages had an incredible cultural development) during XIth, XIIth and XIIIth centuries. It predicated the purity of the spirit and the renounce to all the material goods. From their houses (les maisons) the perfects or priests predicated a new vision of the world that had nothing to do about the official church (the Vatican) whose ministers were rolling in money. The perfects not only talked about Theology but also about the woman’s emancipation, democracy and social welfare thanks to the daily work. At the beginning of the XIIIth century, the Cathar filosophy had reached a high influence in all Languedoc and its main cult places where the most important villages of the region: Carcassone, Toulouse, Béziers, Albi and Mazamet.
The Roman Catholic Church regarded the sect as heretical and fought hard to suppress them with the help of nobility from northern France.
There are a lot of legends and mysteries about Cathars in that region and some places like Montségur have a lot of energy.

My List

The regions of Languedoc and Midi Pyrenées, in South of France, are full of interesting places related to the Cathars. I have been in this area following their steps twice and this is what I visited:

May 2007
-Montségur Castle
-Rocamadur Sanctuary
-A short technical step in Narbonne
-Fontfroide Abbey
-We wanted to visit Quéribus and Peyrepertuse Castles too but it was raining hard :-((

October 2010

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:beautiful landscapes, history, legends . . .
  • Cons:France is very expensive!
  • Last visit to Carcassonne: May 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (13)

Comments (18)

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Very well done informative pages. Im planning a trip for this area for this fall. this is helpful,merci

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Interesting stuff, outlines a lot of the history, well done.

  • Puma_Azul's Profile Photo
    Jun 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Very interesting info about ur Cathar trip......but guess what ? There is another "black virgin" in Czestochowa Poland, i cant guess how many could be .... around the world. Hugs from hoooooot México

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Thank you for appreciating my Honduras page, and for refreshing my memories of Carcassonne and Rocamadour, where I visited a long long time ago...

  • Nov 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    this is an absolutely fascinating page, i know little about the cathars, but their history sound very interesting. all these forts etc are amazing!

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    I see, one weekend is not enough to explore this beautiful region :))) Love villages built on the rocks like Rocamadour! So, the Catalan 'la moreneta' is not unique? To tell the truth, I did not understand the second tip but it surely sounds poetic :)))

  • Redang's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Very similar to my itinerary

  • mickybleck's Profile Photo
    Jul 29, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Nice page! I was close to Carcassonne once but did not go, stupid me!

  • Jefie's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2010 at 5:28 AM

    Very interesting page! Every year in June there's a karate competition in Carcassonne, maybe I should talk my nephew into going there so I can visit at the same time ;o)

  • Toshioohsako's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Very nice nature landscape phto. I have been to Carcasonne once but never been to this area. Have a nice evening.


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