Bugarach - The Sacred Mountain
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Bugarach is a quiet charming little village - population 180 - at the feet of the peak with the same name, in heart of the Corbières region.
The Bugarach Mountain – that with its 1231 meters height dominates the region – is an “upside down” mountain meaning a mountain where upper layers of rock - dating from the Jurassic age 135 million years ago - are older than the lower ones - dating from the Cretacic age 75 million years ago. One explanation is that millions of years ago, at the time of the Pyreneean chain creation, a powerful explosion propelled the mountain's tip that landed afterwards upside down. Because of this geological anomaly the magnetic poles of the site would be reversed and planes would be banned to fly over the mountain (a fact denied by the Civil Aviation Board).
The calcareous mountain with its uncounted number of caves, some of them not even yet explored, is believed to have been the inspiration of Jules Verne’s books “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and “Clovis Dardentor” where one of the characters is called Captain Bugarach.
The myth of the esoteric mountain resurfaced more recently in the ’60 when a certain Daniel Bettex, a Swiss citizen, started exploring the numerous cavities and, it seems, found a strange graffiti looking like the “Ark of the Testimony” – the chest containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed – as well as the beginning of downward tunnel whose entrance was intentionally destroyed.
In his correspondence with his friends Bettex disclosed that he believed he found in fact a road to a mysterious underground world.
Whatever the truth of his findings, Bettex died one day unexpectedly in Bugarach, before completely revealing his findings.
There are many stories and rumors surrounding Bugarach peak.
Some people are sure that the mountain is a source of a strong telluric energy - beneficial for one's wellbeing: former French President François Mitterrand apparently came here several times to improve his health, and there are even eBay sellers of stones taken from the mountain as sources of healthy energy.
Some other stories have the peak as a UFO landing patch, the place where the equally mysterious priest Saunier from the near by Rennes-le-Chateau village hid his treasure or/and a former Nazi secret military base.
Whatever the truth, a climb to the top of Bugarach - not a difficult endeavor given its height and beaten paths - is rewarded at the arrival with a wonderful view of the Pyrenees chain and of the Corbières region up - on a clear day - to the Mediterranean Sea.