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UNESCO Heritage List

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Villefranche-de-Conflent town is a member of the « Les Plus Beaux Villages de France » organization.
The place was inhabited since prehistoric times as attested by the drawings found in the nearby caves of En Gorner, des Canalettes and Cova Bastera - which Vauban transforms into a casemate.
The town, fortified, was founded in 1095 by Guillaume-Raymond earl of Cerdagne as a barrier against the moors invasions. It is also the time when Saint Jacques chruch is built.
During the next 6 centuries Villefranche-de-Conflent belongs successively to the earls of Barcellone, kings of Aragon and finally to the kings of Spain being all along more fortified.
In 1654 the town surrenders to the French armies and after the Treaty of the Pyrenees becomes a Franco-Spanish border town.
In 1669 Vauban enterprises his first trip to Villefranche and estimates that the place is so exposed to the enemy fire from the nearby mountains that "the inhabitants cannot put a foot outside their house, nor come to their windows without being uncovered".
It will take however another 10 years for the Vauban’s plans to be put in practice.
He reinforces the city wall and its towers and adds a thick slate roof for enemy fire protection. The front is reinforced by a downstream casemated cave, Cova Bastera, connected to the village by an underground staircase.
Villefranche-de-Confluent is remarkable also by the quality of the materials – pink marble, orange bricks, blue roofing stones, wrought iron - used by Vauban.
In 1681 Vauban builds Fort Liberia on the location of the last position from which Villefranche remained vulnerable, on the mountain behind.

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