Castle-Museum of Bélesta

 

The Castle Museum is dedicated to recent prehistory. This archaeological treasure (unique in Europe) shows daily activities of Neolithic man.

Workshops : Pottery making the Neolithic way, the making of jewels or jewellery, slate engraving, writing on clay bases, bow and arrow hunting, lifting the menhir, treasure hunt. Castle-Museum is dedicated to recent prehistory. This archaeological treasure (unique in Europe) shows the daily activities of Neolithic humans 6000 years ago.

 Castle-Museum of Bélesta

 

This archeological discovery was made in Belesta Cave (ornaments, equipment, weapons, pots including 30 whole pieces). In 2017, a new space was created and dedicated to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Scottish architect and painter who used to live near Belesta.

Activities in historical attractions Castle-Museum of Bélesta

Castle-Museum of Bélesta is a 13th century village chateau located in Bélesta, 48 km from Carcassone. Free WiFi is provided and free private parking is available on site.

The rooms feature high ceilings and stone walls. Certain units offer a seating area for your convenience and have views of the mountain or garden. A communal lounge including games, DVDs and CD players is available.

 

Breakfast is served every morning in the garden in summer or next to the fireplace. Bike hire can be arranged at this bed and breakfast and the area is popular for the Cathare trail. Pas de la Casa in Andorra is 75 km from the Chateau de Belesta. Carcassonne Airport is 46 km away.

Baroque Murals in Catalonia From The 18th Century

For the past century or so, art historical emphasis has been placed on the area’s Romanesque, Gothic, and Early Renaissance periods of art and architecture, when the financial and naval power of the Catalans was at its height. With the economic decline that set in after trade shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, causing wealth to flow to more strategically-placed Seville rather than Barcelona, a parallel artistic decline naturally followed. Without the riches of the New World to fill its coffers, and later having backed the losing side in the Wars of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona and the other Catalan cities became suspended in time, slumbering away until the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century fueled the explosion of Modernisme, the local equivalent of Art Nouveau.

Recently, a parish church in the small town of Butsènit, located about an hour and a half NW of Barcelona, had to have its leaking roof repaired. Water damage from the leak had caused stains to form along the whitewashed ceiling and walls of the interior. In order to prepare for a new coat of whitewash, workers began to clean away the stains, mold, and years of dirt.

To their surprise, as they cleaned, painted figures and designs began to emerge. Eventually, from underneath layers of old white paint, restorers were able to uncover Baroque murals from the 18th century, which covered both the ceiling of the church as well as the walls of two of the side chapels.

While, with one or two exceptions, there really isn’t much in the way of impressive Baroque architecture in Barcelona, it’s always struck me as rather odd that, in a number of neighborhoods outside the city center, as well as in many smaller cities and towns around Catalonia, the main parish church is often neither Romanesque nor Gothic but Baroque, albeit a very plain, austere Baroque. Alternatively, even if the building itself dates from a much earlier period, sometimes you’ll find that, at some point during the 17th or 18th centuries, the church was “modernized” with the addition of a Baroque façade, or had its earlier, Romanesque or Gothic paintings and sculptures replaced with Baroque ones. You’ll typically find lavish, heavily carved and gilded Baroque altarpieces standing several stories high even within the most plain, whitewashed of village churches.

It’s that whitewashing that always seemed strange to me, and now it seems that the experts are beginning to understand why. In many cases, the paintings have been covered up in these churches both because the elaborate designs of the Baroque came to be viewed as too ostentatious – or even unhygienic – by subsequent generations, and because damage which occurred during the Spanish Civil War left many of these parishes with no option but to paint over the ruined murals that had been defaced by Leftists during their reign of terror, rather than restore them. In the case of this particular parish, not only did no one in the community ever remember seeing these murals, but no one was aware that the walls of their church had ever been decorated to begin with.

The implications for art history research are quite significant, as historian and conservationist Pere Rovira of the Centre de Restauració de Béns Mobles de Catalunya notes in the article linked to above. “If we start scraping, murals will be revealed in all the Baroque churches, all waiting to be discovered.” He goes on to ask other parish communities to keep this possibility in mind, and to inform the appropriate cultural preservation authorities when their churches need to undergo cleaning and repairs. “[W’e ask that before repainting walls, you let us know so that we can do a survey.”

Now, it must be said that no one should expect finds of enormous artistic significance, even if a concentrated effort actually gets off the ground. There’s no question that the artistic center of the Iberian Peninsula shifted to Seville and Madrid during the 17th and 18th centuries. There are plenty of decent Catalan Baroque painters, but none of them come up to the level of a Velázquez or a Murillo. What’s more, even if originally these interiors were not as plain as they are today, none of these Catalan churches even begins to compare with the elaborate Baroque parish churches being constructed in Andalusia or Castile during this period.

THE ASPRES

THE ASPRES

Roman art is everywhere in this region with its astonishing landscapes (The Organs of Ille-sur-Têt). Visit Castelnou, a medieval village of painters and craftsmen or go back to prehistory in the Castle-Museum of Bélesta where you will not only see the daily life of the very first craftsmen (an impressive collection of potery awaits you), but also the skillful work of the archeologists.

Gites-Roussillon

Tourisme:
Gites-Roussillon
Three Gîtes

Between sea and mountain
Calm and quiet :
Holiday house “Le Veinat d’en Marsalet”

MUSEUMS

The Castle-Museum of Prehistory

BELESTA

A reproduction of the cave of Bélesta.
The daily life of the first farmers and craftsmen.
In july and august, potery workshops are being organised for the young.
Open from 10h till 12h30 and from 15h till 19h
Tel 04 68 84 55 55

ARTS

Baroque Catalonia
Exhibition in the Hospice of Ille-sur-Têt
Activities, Animation, Workshops
Tel 04 68 84 83 96

NATURE

The Organs of Ille-sur-Têt
The elements have created a labyrinth of astonishing ochre clay figures in the shade of the Canigou. Mother nature at its creative best.
Tourist Office of Ille sur Tet
Tel 04 68 84 02 62

SERRABONE

A landscape of outstanding beauty
Priory (XI-XIIth centuries)
Open all year through from 10h till 18h
Tel 04 68 84 09 30

VILLAGES

BELESTA

Prehistorical Museum
Tel 04 68 84 55 55

THUIR

Capital of the Aspres
Winecellars of Byrrh :
The largest oak vat in the world
Tel 04 68 53 05 42
Nature and Hunting Museum
Tel 04 68 53 36 29
Museum of popular art and tradition
Tel 04 68 84 67 67

MILLAS

Millenary city
Historical remains
Museum of ancient art
Féria du 6 au 9 Aout
Cooperative winecellar: AOC, muscatel and natural sweet wines.
Tourist office :
Tel 04 68 57 16 68

CASTELNOU

Medieval town
Castle
Craftsmanship, Art, Exhibitions
Tel 04 68 53 22 91

ILLE-SUR-TET

Art patrimony, nature
Baroque Catalonia
Tourist Office of Ille sur Tet
Tel 04 68 84 02 62

SERRABONE

Priory ( XI-XIIth centuries)
Open all year through from 10h till 18h
Tel 04 68 84 09 30