Between the Pyrenees and Lombardy

Some assert that the name “Pyrenees” means “fire”, for all the fires started during the conflicts between Arabs and Christians along the border between France and Spain.
What is certain is that in the southern part of the French department of Ariège, populated by silver firs and beeches, numerous massifs quietly approach this mountain range.

The heart of the department is the “forêt de Bélesta”, with the abyss called “gouffre des Corbeaux” and the intermittent fountain “de Fontestorbes”.

Not far away, one of the places of the Cathar resistance in its most dramatic moment has stood silently for almost 2000 years: between peaks and mountaintops, forests and gorges, cliffs and green and gray lakes, stands the solitary fortress of Montségur.

History and legend

At the beginning of 1200, the Papacy declared war on the Cathar heresy that demanded a return to “evangelical purity and poverty”.
First Bèziers was sacked, where it is said that Aranud Amaury, the papal legate, gave the order “Kill them all. God will recognize his own”, then Carcassonne fell, afterwards Albi, Castelnaudary and many other strongholds.
The castle of Montségur remained unconquered thanks to its position, by now a symbol of the resistance and refuge of the fugitives.
At Christmas 1243 (the fortress will fall in the spring of ’44) it is said that 4 heretics, amid the chaos of the assaults on the castle, managed to descend from a height of 1207 metres and escape, as the citadel creaked and prepared to capitulate.
Legend has it that, hidden, under their clothes and in bags, they had rescued the legendary Cathar treasure: only money or jewels according to some, for others something much more precious, not just simple material assets. For others nothing less than the Holy Grail.
Perhaps it does not exist, perhaps it is now hidden in the south of France, perhaps underground in some wood or land, but part of the legend tells that that treasure was brought up here, in the land of lakes, Lombardy, where many survivors found a new house.
Between bloody events and public debates, sieges and fires, it took almost a century to subdue the heretics: the last was Guillaume Bélibaste, burned at the stake in 1321.
And with him, the truth about the Cathar treasure.

>The fortress of Montségur is here

“Il grande libro dei misteri della Lombardia risolti e irrisolti” Federico Crimi, Giulio M. Facchetti (Newton Compton Editori, 2008)