We never tire of looking at the castle. Every day we see it, perhaps on our way back from the shops or the markets, perhaps after a stroll or a run or a bike ride. You’d be hard pressed to go out anywhere in Najac and its surroundings and not see some view of the castle. And it’s always lovely, bathed in morning light or floodlit in the evening – the village lights twinkling beyond – or that iconic view, always top in Google searches (other search engines are available) where the castle appears to float above the clouds. Every time we see the castle we are reminded of the beauty of Najac.
But it’s not just about the view. The castle (now privately owned) is open to the public and it is definitely a trip worth making. There has been a castle there since 1100 although this ‘edition’ dates from the 13th Century and is part of a series of Royal castles built after the Cathars – Templar Knights were imprisoned in the castle’s dungeons. Standing up on the castle walls and admiring the views it is easy to see how this was a great stronghold, the shape and size of the hill allowing for a great advantage over the enemy and this, coupled with what are supposed to be the longest arrow slits in history – 6.8 metres long – certainly meant an advance upon the castle would be very difficult.
It’s possible to make your way up to the bell tower – although you may feel tired because it’s a long enough slog up from the village without the additional flights of steps – and it’s well worth this last push upwards. The views are spectacular and it’s up here that you realise how densely forested it is in this part of the Averyon – you can almost see the extra oxygen cleansing your lungs! The castle bell still chimes and it’s worth noting that the bell rings twice (just in case you didn’t hear it the first time) so it’s better to avoid the later hours of morning and evening for your tower trip – or take ear-defenders! And, above all else, remember your camera.
Gallery (click on a photo to start the slideshow)