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Mauvezin Castle

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Overlooking the Gascony region of Bigorre in the foothills of the Pyrenean Mountains, Mauvezin fortress owes its size and shape to its 14th century lord the famous Gaston III de Foix-Béarn known as Gaston Fébus (believed to have been a very handsome prince, with a mane of blond hair, deserving of the surname Fébus, the Latin Apollo, which he spelled with "F" not "Ph"!).
The castle was built on the site of an older, 11th century, fortification, first mentioned in 1083 in a peace treaty between the Viscounts of Aure and Labarthe and the Countess Béatrice I de Bigorre. The keep of this first fortification that was used during the 16th century Wars of Religion as a Huguenot prison can still be seen in the center of the courtyard.
During the Hundred Years Wars the stronghold, along with the entire Bigorre region, passed from the French side to the English and back several times.
In 1379 Gaston III de Foix-Béarn known as Gaston Fébus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Béarn took possession - they say "by force or money" - of the castle and started a reconstruction process that was to last until the 15th century; it is during this period that the 18 meters high fortified walls and the 37 meters mighty keep were built. In 1426 the castle and the whole Bigorre region was granted by King Charles VII of France to Count Jean I of Foix, thus incorporating Bigorre into the estates of the House of Foix-Grailly, which included the county of Foix, Béarn, and Nébouzan.
We can still see the coat of arms that Jean Ier de Foix (1382 - 1436) carved above the main entrance: it includes a chimera - symbol of power -, a helmet and a flag. It also has etched the Count's unusual motto:" J'ay belle dame", "I have a beautiful lady", apparently as homage to his second wife Jeanne d'Albret.
The castle together with the whole Bearn region, by then part of the Kingdom of Navarre, were attached permanently to the France crown when Henri III of Navarre - Jean's and Jeanne's descendent - became King Henri IV of France in 1589.
Nowadays the castle belongs to the Occitan cultural association "Escola Gaston Fèbus".
It features in the courtyard a collection of medieval war engines, and in its main tower an exhibition that recreates the castle's life in the middle ages.

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Address:10 rue du château, 65130 Mauvezin
Visiting Hours:From April 15th to October 15th from 10am to 7pm.
From October 16th to April 14th from 1:30pm to 5:30 pm.


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