Evol Castle (fr. Château d’Evol) rises above the eponymous village near the town of Olette, in the Eastern Pyrenees Department (Pyrénées-Orientales), and the Occitania Region (this region was created following the merger of the Languedoc Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions). There is another picturesque village, Thuès d’Evol (within three minutes by car) that is smaller in size.
There is an asphalted road between the two villages which forks and rises up the hill. It then becomes a narrow walking track, via which you can get to Saint Etienne church (chapelle St Etienne) and then up to the castle. The way is covered with prickly shrubs in some places making it difficult to climb, but the view from the top is especially good.
The first mention of the Evol village dates to the year 950, when the area was controlled by Conflent Unifred, the son of Guifré el Pilós, a descendant of Earls of Cerdanya (comtes de Cerdanya). The first mention of the castle dates back to the year 1162 and is linked to the name of the Bernat d’Alione, who was possibly a Unifred descendant. This mysterious character (who is married to the daughter of Arnau de So. whose name was Estefania), became the heir of the So castellania (Husson). La châtellenie or castellania is a term used in Europe in the Middle Ages to denote the smallest unit of administrative division. The area united administrative, military and financial functions or the territory of the castle and its environs at the same time in France.
Thus began the dynasty of the future Evol viscounts, the family who would reign over the valley.
Later, however, Bernat III de Llo, a descendant of Bernat d’Аlione was convicted of catharism and burned alive in Perpignan in 1258. His family was deprived of their possessions. However, King Jaume I The Conqueror (Jaume I el Conqueridor) at the request of the Earl of Foix Roger-Bernard II, returned the possession to Guillem I de So, the son of Bernat III de Llo, the surname changing occurred in connection with the condemnation and execution of his father.
The castle was reconstructed in 1335. It survived the war in 1385 when viscount Bernat IV de So personally presided over the castle protection from the Bernat d’Armanyac attack, who was the pretender to the Kingdom of Mallorca.
It is known that the Evol viscounts almost always had the status of advisers to the King of France and often were the Roussillon and Cerdagne counties’ governors. Evol castle remained their residence at least until the fifteenth century.
Historians believe that the castle was dismantled at the end of the 17th century on the orders from the French marshal Vauban who initiated the campaign for the demolition of the old military fortifications, which could serve as a rebellion’s haven after the conclusion of the Treaty of the Pyrenees.
The castle ruins passed into private hands after the French Revolution and then Evol mayor’s office purchased it for possible recovery in 1990.
The castle has an almost square shape (internal dimensions – 38 per 34.5 meters) and there is the round tower at every corner. There is also a fifth tower which is a little bigger in size. This tower is the castle’s oldest element (it was built in the 11th century while the rest of the towers were allegedly built in the 13th century).
The Eastern and Western walls are preserved as well as an impressive part of the northern wall. There are square windows in all the surviving rooms overlooking the castle’s inner courtyard.
Evol is the Picturesque French Village which is included on the list of the most beautiful villages in France (les plus beaux villages de France). It will be remembered by visitors due to its stone houses and extremely short streets, which are literally rife in flowers in summer.
How to Get There?
GPS coordinates: 42,57333 N, 2,25389 E
From Andorra: N145, N260, N152, N116, D4, D4a
From Perpignan: N116, D4, D4a
The village can be found by following the 116 national French road in the direction of Andorra to the city of Olette and then taking the turn-off to Evol. It is then about 15 minutes further on foot.