Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Keep

The castle keep...symbol of power of the Count of Toulouse, showpiece and masterpiece of the fortress. Soaring 40 meters above the earth, its top is reached by 115 stairs that spiral up and up. The spiral turns tightly clockwise against a central stone pillar, making it difficult for invaders holding swords in their right hands to use their weapons. The narrow stairway is just large enough for one person. Access to the keep was by a gangway that could be removed. There are 4 levels to the keep. The first level is the guards' room; the second level holds the chapel; the third level is another guards' room that has a door to access a wall leading around the front of the fortress; the final level, the last refuge, is a living space.with a fireplace that was used to heat boiling oil to fling onto the heads of invaders.
The long, vertical lines you see here are actually narrow openings into the keep. Constructed to give archers many different angles of fire, they are also tall enough for three or four archers to shoot, one above the other. Each level of the keep can be sealed off from the lower level, thus enabling them to be defended separately

115 steps later: the opening at the top!
The bell was installed in 1596 and was used to sound the alarm in case of attack. Today it's connected to a clock mechanism and tolls the hour.
The village of Najac
Overlooking the village church and cemetery
Looking down on the Aveyron River far below
The crenelated top of the keep made a strategic command post with a 360 degree view of the village, the rest of the castle and the surrounding countryside. It could also be used in defense of the castle. Today, though, it's simply a place to take photos of the magnificent view!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, Evelyn. I've visited the castle several times but have never been to the top.