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Sauveterre de Béarn

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Sauveterre de Bearn was during medieval times not only a stronghold protecting the independent Earldom of Béarn from its mighty Spanish neighbor but also a safe place for the pilgrims on their route to Santiago de Compostela.
The town is first mentioned in a written document in the 11th century.
It was a residence of the Viscount of Béarn Gaston VII de Moncade who built here a castle. The castle, later enlarged by Gaston Phebus, is now unfortunately just a melancholy triggering ruin!
The most impressive historic vestige is arguably the100 feet high (33 meters) Monréal Tower built in the 12th century as a defense as well as live in structure.
On the north west side of the tower is located the Saint André church, built mainly in Romanesque architectural style - with some Gothic style elements in the interior - and probably finished in the early 13th century.
As it is the case with the Saint Germain church of Navarrenx, the lateral side of Saint André church has a small door that was in ancient times dedicated for the use of a minority called the "cagots". The origin of these people is still unknown, some academics believing that they were the descendents of the Visigoths, or of the Moors or even the lepers of the region.
From the terrace in front of the church one can admire the fortified bridge - or what is left from it - called "The Bridge of the Legend". The bridge was built in the 13th century by Gaston de Moncade and was linking the town of Sauveterre with the Glère island formed by the arms of the Gave d'Oloron.
It is called "of the Legend" because its site is linked by the legend to the judgment of the Viscountess Sancie who was thrown into the cold turbulent river for being under the accusation of baby killing. Sancie survived and was thus declared innocent.
The bridge is accessible by stairs from the uptown.

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