Listed as Great Site of Midi-Pyrenees
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The history of the Templars in the south Aveyron region of Larzac starts in the middle of the 12th century when the order receives two important land donations here, first one in 1151 when some land is donated by the Abbot of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert monastery and the second one in 1159 when Ramon Berenguer IV Count of Barcelona gives away a more important territory in Larzac region to the Templar Commandery of Sainte Eulalie (one of the richest commandery in the western world).
During the following 150 years the Templars build here several towns: La Cavalerie, La Couvertoirade, Sainte Eulalie de Cernon , La Viala du Pas de Jaux and Saint-Jean d'Alcas.
All these little towns are now authentic reminders of the life of the Templars and later of the Knights Hospitaller in this part of France.
In 1312 when the Order of the Templar is dissolved by the Pope all of its goods and properties are transferred to the Knights Hospitallers known also as the Knights of Saint Jean de Jerusalem. (For more information check http://southweststory.com/wp/the-knights-hospitallers-of-toulouse).
Because of the insecurity bought on by the Hundred Years War (1338-1453) the Hospitallers -the new landlords of the villages - are compelled to fortifying them.
During the Religious Wars of the 15th century some of the towns like La Couvertoirade resist the Huguenot attacks but other like La Cavelerie are taken by the Protestant armies who do not hesitated to burn alive the inhabitants.
La Couvertoirade is arguably the most striking of all the Templars' towns in the south of Aveyron department. It is listed as a historic monument and it is now recognized as one of the most beautiful villages of France ("Plus Beaux Villages de France").
It is situated in the heart of the Plateau of Larzac ("Causses de Larzac") at 800 meters of altitude.
The little village - nowadays population 150 - developed around a Templar Castle built around year 1200 - the remains of the castle can still be visited (unfortunately only during the months of June, July and August!!!). In the 14th century the Knights Hospitallers - the new owners after the dissolution of the Order of the Temple - built the town's church* - the little simple church and the small nearby cemetery scattered with funeral stones decorated with eight-pointed crosses are a sharp reminder of the town's chivalry past -, and in the 15th century its thick fortified walls and the two towers.
The town of "La Cavalerie" was set up by the Templars in 1154 on a strategic location on the route from the North of France to the South ports of the Mediterranean Sea - and further to the Holy Land (this road was the ancestor of the nowadays Highway A75 Paris -Barcelona).
While the Templars Castle was completely destroyed during the following centuries some remains of the Knights' Chapel can be seen in the present church, church that was built in the 18th century.
The town of "La Cavalerie" was surrounded by fortified walls during the Hundred Years Wars on the order of the Knight Hospitallers (the successors of the Templars), walls that did not prevent the Huguenot armies from attacking and destroying the city during the Religious Wars of the 16th century.
Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon, was the first of Templars' settlements on the area that is now the Aveyron department. The town preserves in good conditions almost all the building erected here in the 12th century by the Knights - the Romanesque church, the refectory and the Templars' dormitory - as well as its fortified surrounding walls and towers built in the 15th century. The Templars towns together with the Viaduct of Millau and the Roquefort Cheese factories of Roquefort sur Soulzon are the not to be missed tourist attractions of the south of Averyron department.
The church was rebuilt around 1900.