The Fortified City and its Ramparts

(10-minute walk from the train station)

You can visit Liberia Fortress all year round. From the Yellow Train station, it takes 30 to 40 minutes to go up on foot.

The Citadel of Villefranche-de-Conflent

At the beginning of the 11th century, Guillem Ramon, then Count of Cerdanya, founded the city of Villefranche-de-Conflent with the aim of making it the new capital of the Conflent territory and thus making it quite impossible for potential invaders to access the road to the high plateaux of Cerdanya.

In 1654, the city was besieged and taken by the French. The fortifications were partly dismantled so that they could not be used by the Spaniards. It was not until 1669 that Marshal Vauban, a French military engineer, increased the height of the city ramparts and strengthened them.

Even today, this former merchant city has kept very beautiful traces of its history and its singular defensive position. The fortifications of Villefranche-de-Conflent have been listed since 2008 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Learn about how the defence system of the city worked and discover its ingenious construction by taking a walk on the ramparts with a guided tour certified by the “Regional Natural Park Value” label. The defence area was covered with a roof by Vauban to protect the defenders from musket fire coming from the mountain.

The Ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent© Sud_de_France_pour_les_remparts_de_VDC
The Ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent© Sud_de_France_pour_les_remparts_de_VDC

Enjoy the many restaurants and shops in this walled city and experience a unique moment between history and modernity.

The Streets of Villefranche-de-Conflent© OTCONFLENTCANIGO

The Ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent

The medieval ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent were remodelled by Vauban in 1669 for King Louis XIV.

Built from the end of the 11th century, date of the creation of the city, towers will be added between the 14th and 15th centuries. Vauban decided to cover the medieval area by a vault and to add another rampart walkway on top, protected by a framework with a slate roof. This double and covered overlapping rampart walkway is unique in the work of Vauban. He also added the bastions to the corners and one on each long side. According to some visitors, the ramparts are somewhat like a labyrinth.

The entrance to visit the ramparts is in the village, next to one of the main entrances called “Porte d’Espagne”. You can visit the ramparts from February to December. Opening hours vary according to the seasons. The visit of the ramparts will allow you to walk on the upper part surrounded by the thick walls of the medieval city.

In summer, on Mondays and Tuesdays, enjoy a guided tour of the ramparts with a torchlight, and immerse yourself in a unique atmosphere while travelling through time!

The Ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent© Hervé Leclair – Sud de France

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“Visite remparts”

The Liberia Fortress:

The Ramparts of the Liberia Fortress© CONFLENTCANIGO

In the 17th century, the introduction of powder cannons posed a crucial problem for the city of Villefranche-de-Conflent. Indeed, the city is in a very enclosed position, as it is located in a deep valley and at the confluence of the two rivers, the Têt and the Cady. The newly designated “capital of Conflent” is thus totally unable to use this new means of defence.

The year 1679 marked the beginning of a project to build a fortress, high above the city, under the supervision of Vauban. The construction of the Liberia Fortress began in 1681 on a rocky mountain overhang, 180 metres above the level of the Têt River. In times of peace, this exceptional military building could house a garrison of up to 100 soldiers.

Liberia Fortress© CONFLENTCANIGO

The Liberia Fortress will take you on a journey back to medieval times, and you will also discover the last monarchies and first empires of France. This historical site is brought back to life thanks to historical reconstructions (of the 17th century) in the ten restored rooms.

The best way to access the fortress is by the historic path (located on the right of the underground) rather than by the so-called underground path of1000 steps which actually has 734 steps. With its 180 metres of elevation gain to access the fortress, you need to be quite fit to climb up, but the view on top over the city of Villefranche-de-Conflent is totally worth the effort. It is also possible to ride up in an all-terrain vehicle from the Café Le Canigou inside the fortified city.

Underground path of “1000 steps”© CONFLENTCANIGO

Whichever path you take for the ascent, take the time, once at the top, to enjoy the exceptional panorama over the Têt, Cady and Rotja Valleys and the Canigó Massif.

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