castel
Historical visit of the castle and its rotunda

 

Visitors to the Castle of Simiane la Rotonde are taken back a thousand years into the history of a monument built on the site of a former Roman oppidum. Property of the Simiane-Agoult family, it has been subject to many changes depending upon prevailing conditions : periods of intense activity or partial desertion. As early as 1031, it appears as “Castrum” (fortress) in a legal document donating it to the abbey of St Victor as 'Castrum'. The first fortiefied keep no longer exists. Beside where it once stood, the Simiane-Agoult family built their great defensive tower, the “Rotonde” which still exists today. More than 18 metres high, it was formerly surrounded by a wide dry defensive moat.

Recent restorations enable visitors to visualise better the living area of this ancient family. A beautiful Romanesque room, once the main hall, houses a permanent exhibition detailing the history of the Castle. On show there are archaeological remains found in the Castle courtyard during the course of excavations in 2001 and handwritten documents testifying to local events.

Though the Castle needs furthers excavation for all its mysteries to be revealed, that of the north wing, now collapsed, cannot fail to fascinate you. This is the great ceremonial chamber of the “Rotonde” with its magnificient ribbed cupola opening into an occulus with a sculpted wreath of flowers. The capitals of the pillars separating 12 arches round the wall are decorated with expressive stone masks from a symbolic medieval bestiary. Exhibitions of paintings, drawings or sculpture are regularly renewed each season. Every summer, in August, an early music festival is held in this beautiful room which once welcomed troubadours.

From the terrace, built on the remains of an XIth century building, you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the village rooftops and, when the sky is clear (which is often the case), the valley with its fields of lavandin (a lavender hybrid), oak-wooded hills, the Lure Mountain and the Alps. The restored Renaissance apartments now house exhibitions about the natural, agricultural or architectural local heritage.

The Sainte Victoire aromatherapy laboratory is situated in the South wing of the Castle. It offers an introduction to the benefits of aromatic essential oils. The Castle is now the property of the commune and has been listed as an Historic Monument since 2000.

Manned by an enthusiastic team, some members devoted to presenting its long history, others working

castle

 

 

castle and rotunda
History & archeology room of the castle | Simiane-Agoult family 's Rotonde | International early music festival | Exhibitions
Official web site of Simiane la Rotonde | Sitemap | Photography Jack Burlot