Plus Beaux Villages de France
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The village of Castelnou situated some 20km southwest of Perpignan, in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of the south west France, is an authentic Catalan village, listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Built on a rocky outcrop Castelnou is surrounded by the luxuriant nature of two plateaus: Thuir and Roc de Majorque.
The village was founded in the 10th century by the viscounts of Vallespir who built between 988 and 990 AD on the top of the hill their castle and established here their capital. The town flourishes afterwards for more than 300 years until the death of the last viscount of Vallespir, Jasper V, in 1321.
During the following centuries the Castelnou area became a barony and in 1789 during the French revolution was turned into a state property. In 1875 was sold to the Viscount Satgé - a nativ of the area - who restored the castle. Nowadays the castle is a private property.
Besides the castle, the Santa Maria del Mercadal church built in the 13th century and the town fortified wall with its 8 towers and 4 gates add to the town's medieval appearance. In keeping with the ancient traditions each Tuesday from mid-June to mid-September a picturesque market is held in the city's square.
The surroundings of Castlenou are also remarkable in that they bear the signs of pre-historic human inhabitations in the shape of the engraved signs of Creu d'en Cubri and the dolmen of Serrat d'en Geli.