Visit the Chateau Commarque in Dordogne, Aquitaine
The history of Chateau Commarque is much less well documented than that of most of the Dordogne castles, especially the reasons for its abandonment.
It didn't so much fall into disrepair, like many other castles in France during the 17th-19th centuries, as fall into the forest and disappear. It lies in a quiet and long abandoned valley where the silt, debris and neglect of the centuries virtually swallowed it, and it is only in recent years that it has been 'rediscovered'.
The excavations have shown that the castle occupies the site of earlier settlements, with evidence of prehistoric settlement on the site. The village that once surrounded Commarque castle is also reemerging from the forest during the fascinating excavations.
It seems likely the castle dates from the 12th century, and was related to the struggles of the Beynacs around that time to dominate the region. The next three centuries are better documented, and it is known that the Beynacs controlled the castle at the middle of the 13th century, and that the castle played an important role in the region during the two centuries that followed. The castle was altered several times during this period, especially ayt the end of the 14th century.
The chateau is believed to have been damaged during the Wars of Religion - it was taken by the catholics in 1569. Commarque remained occupied until the 17th century.
In 1968 chateau commarque was purchased by Hubert de Commarque, descendant of the original owners, and in recent years extensive renovation and archaeolgical work has been meticulously carried out at the site, often by hand and one stone at a time. It is now a fascinating castle to visit - although it is hard to imagine the original scale and splendour of the castle and village, the ruins make a very evocative sight.
Map showing location of Chateau Commarque