The Château des Adhémar stands on a hill in the centre of the French town of Montélimar in the Drôme département.

History

Its origins are found in the 11th century when the first castle was built by the Count of Toulouse, the Duke of Narbonne. Little of this remains.

In the second half of the 12th century it became the property of the Adhémar de Monteil family, lords of Rochemaure, later lords of Grignan, then at the height of their power. The palace they built substantially exists today.

In the 14th century, it was taken by the papacy, joining the Pope's castles until 1447, when Montélimar was returned to the kingdom of France. The site of many armed conflicts, especially during the Wars of Religion, the castle suffered much damage and was transformed into a citadel, then back to a pleasant residence with the return of more peaceful times. In the 15th century it was used as a prison.

In the middle of the 16th century, Louis Adhémar rebuilt in the Renaissance style. During the French Revolution, the château was partially destroyed.

The castle was a prison again between 1791 and 1926, a use which has meant that it remained practically intact.

Architecture

The château is considered to be one of the last examples of Romanesque castle architecture. having a fortified curtain wall, round walk, keep, a house and chapel, combining social, family, political and religious life in one. Only the Narbonne tower is outside the first wall, some metres to the north. Of the original 12th century residential buildings, only the palace remains. There are three large rectangular rooms reached through a monumental doorway. The spectacular decoration of the lodgings is concentrated on the first floor gallery, with no fewer than nine semicircular arches with sculptured columns. This series of windows extends the full length of the building.

The keep has three floors. The austere architecture, with thick walls, reminds visitors of the castle's medieval origins.

The castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1889. The château was restored thanks to Madame Fontaine, who owned it from 1912. The site is still undergoing arcaeological examination. It is open to the public. Art exhibitions and other cultural events take place.