Capendu and Alaric Mountain
For treasure hunters!
Visitor's Rating: (0 out of 4/Number of Votes:0)
Capendu is a little town - population just over 1,500 - situated some 20km east of Carcassonne, at the feet of the Alaric Mountain, on the north side of the Corbières massif. This positioning close to the mountain gave the town its name that was initially Campendut which means steep hill; cam: hill and pendut: steep.
Capendu is, like many urban communities of the region, a circular defensive town. Its center is marked by a little rocky outcrop on which stands the ruined choir of a 13th century chapel, all that now remains of Capendu’s medieval castle. Surrounding the town's centre is a defensive wall and houses - built outside of this fortified line - disposed in rings around the town's core.
While there are traces of human inhabitance of the area dating from the 4th century BC and in antique times the Romans build Via Aquitania - a road linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic - near the nowadays Capendu, the town itself has medieval origins being first mentioned in documents in the 11th century.
Situated "across" the A61 highway Toulouse-Montpellier from Capendu is Alaric Mountain - a 600 meters high hill, part of the Corbières range, Pyrenean foothills. It bears the name of a Visigoth King, Alaric who some say was buried here.
Visigoths were Germanic migratory people who came from southern Scandinavian Peninsula and settled in the 3rd century AD on the boards of the Black Sea, on a territory that is now Romania. Trying to take advantage of - and accelerating - the disintegration of the Roman Empire they started, towards the end of the 4th century AD to move towards Western Europe. In August 410AD one of their kings Alaric I captured Rome and after 3 days of looting and pillaging left the city with an enormous booty. This was the beginning of the legend of the great Visigoths' treasure.
The 5th century marked the apogee of Visigoths power in Europe: they founded then an empire that included the western part of northern Italy, the south of modern French and the Iberian Peninsula. The capital of this empire was the city of Toulouse. It is in Toulouse that the Visigoths moved their treasure in 418 AD.
The Visigoths supremacy in southwestern Europe was however short-lived. In 507 they were defeated by Francs - another Germanic people led at the date by Clovis - at the Battle of Vouillé and their capital Toulouse was captured. By 508 the Visigoths lost all their territories north of Pyrenees, save Septimania, a region that is nowadays the Languedoc province in southwest France.
Later on they will be chased towards the north of Spain as well by Moors and towards the end of the first millennium will found the Kingdom of Asturias, which eventually evolved into modern Spain.
But all this was lying in the future at the time of the battle of Vouillé that saw their King Alaric II killed in combat and the famous Visigoths' treasure until then kept in Toulouse vanished.
According to the customs of the time Alaric was buried in an unmarked grave surrounded by at least a part of kingdom's treasure.
Some historians believe that the burial place of Alaric is no other than Alaric Mountain… and thus somewhere in one of the many caves of this calcareous hill lie not only the remains of the Visigoth King but also a part of the riches taken from Rome - some go as far as to say that this included king Solomon's treasure taken by Roman Emperor Titus at the capture of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Being a mild hill the Alaric Mountain is easily accessible. If one does not find the gold and precious stones treasure, the beauty of the scenery of Corbieres region, the visit of the ruins of the Miramont castle built on the foundation of a Visigoth fort or a visit to the many wineries of the region can make nevertheless for a wonderful trip.