Monday, 19 July 2010
Le Castillet - Perpignan
I was watching the Bastille Day fireworks last Wednesday – a fabulous display let off from the roof of the Castillet. What would Perpignan do without its' most famous landmark? So far I have seen it covered in Catalan Flags celebrating the local Rugby Team’s victory, it has had films played on the walls, it has had abseilers climbing up carrying the ‘sacred flame of the Canigou’ and it also housed the the clock counting down the days to the opening of the new TGV link to Barcelona (unfortunately I wasn’t there on the last day but presumably they put up a sign saying ‘Train Delayed’). It is always used as a focal point for any Perpignan festival or celebration and it is an ideal ‘meeting-point’ when arranging to meet visitors to the City as you cannot miss it! But what is it?
The Castillet was built in the 14th century as a gateway in the city ramparts. 100 years later, Louis 16th ordered its’ conversion to a state prison, and later its’ walls were fortified and it became a defensive bastion. Early in the 1900s many of Perpignan’s ramparts were pulled down to allow for the expansion of the City but the Castillet was left. It now houses the ‘Casa Pairal’, a museum of Roussillon folklore & culture, and you can also climb the steps to the tower for a spectacular view. It well deserves its’ role as the symbol for Perpignan – and even has its’ own page on Facebook!