Traces of history

Signal towers and fortifications

Signal towers are medieval defensive elements intended to convey information from one place to another.

In the early Middle Ages, seigneuries appeared on the territory. From the 10th century but especially in the 11th, the most important families take the ascendancy on the hamlets where they reside, buying the land. It will create so gentlemen (Senyor in Catalan) that will give lords. These lords dominate several hamlets and therefore have every interest in building a defense system of their own, especially that in those times far wars between lords are legion.

Signal towers are built to protect a relatively small area, such as an extensive valley or mountain range. Most of the time this device has a central point, the castle of the lord.

The Madeloc Tower

Traces dhistoire Madeloc


The tower Madeloc is perched at about 650 meters high in the chain of Albères, a few kilometers west of the Mediterranean coast.

It is accessible on foot, by bike or by car (parking has been arranged en route). It is now used as a television relay.

The Massane Tower

Tour Massane 249


Nearly 700 years after its construction, the Massane, symbol of Argelès and witness of its past, always watches over the city. Located at 800 meters altitude, it offers a fabulous panorama of the Albères massif, the Roussillon plain and the Côte Vermeille

This Watchtower, built by the Kings of Majorca, is an exceptional point of view on the Plaine du Roussillon. At 793 meters altitude, the tower is a landmark for hikers of the massif. The famous Cassini cartographer even used it as a geodesic landmark in 1701 for his meridian work. He manages to find a difference of 397 toises between the foot of the Tower and Collioure (an altitude of 780 meters). Rather precise for the time, no?

The batteries of Port-Vendres

Batterie du centre

Between 1870-1871, the defeat of France against Germany and its weakening fears a new conflict with Spain still determined to recover the Roussillon. General Boulanger, then Minister of War, instructs General Henri Berge to create a new defensive system. This one will be realized between 1883 and 1886 and will come to strengthen the fortifications created to protect Port-Vendres become military port in 1846.

These achievements are:
• The Taillefer Battery
• The Battery of La Galline (Altitude 250m)
The Barracks of Left
• Barracks of Right under Taillefer
• The Center Barracks on the Ridge Road
• Restoration and elevation of the Madeloc Tower
• The creation of a strategic road linking all the works between them as well as Fort Dugommier and Port-Vendres. All these defenses will never be used. The road will become "Route des Crêtes" and allow winemakers easy access to their vineyards.
Fort Saint Elme Fort St. Elmo was built by the Italian engineer Benedetto of Ravenna at the request of Emperor Charles V. With its six-pointed star-shaped plan and the tower at its center, it announces the fortifications of Vauban. Today, the museum that houses it contains a rich collection of weapons from the Middle Ages and Renaissance (halberds, spears, spades, swords, shields, but also arquebuses, cannons ....). From the top of its walls one discovers all the coast of Collioure until Sète, but also the Canigou and the chain of Albères and the Corbières.

Le Fort Saint Elme

Fort Saint Elme

Le Fort Saint-Elme a été construit par l’ingénieur italien Benedetto de Ravenne à la demande de l’empereur Charles Quint. Avec son plan en forme d’étoile à six branches et la tour en son centre, il annonce les fortifications de Vauban.

Aujourd'hui, le musée qu'il abrite en son sein présente une riche collection d'armes d'époque Moyen Age et Renaissance (Hallebardes, Lances,piques,épées, boucliers, mais aussi arquebuses, canons....).

Du Haut de ses  murailles on découvre toute la côte de Collioure jusqu'à Sète, mais aussi le Canigou et la chaîne des Albères et les Corbières.

La Retirada

The Retirada lived by some 200,000 Spanish Republicans in 1939, following the victory of Francoism, whose physical "traces" remain everywhere on the territory of the Community of Albères-Côte Vermeille-Illiberis Communes: the train station of Cerbere and the col de Banyuls (places of passage), the Royal Castle of Collioure and the Camp Memorial of Argelès-sur-Mer (places of confinement). Do not forget to mention the tomb of Antonio Machado (Collioure), the cemetery of the Spaniards, the Monolith marking the northern entrance to the camp (Argelès) and the Swiss Maternity of Elne ...

Swiss Maternity

Mternit suisse 2

Built in 1900, this castle hosted during the period 1939-1944 mothers about to give birth interned in the camps of Argeles, Rivesaltes, Saint-Cyprien and Gurs. Thanks to the courage and determination of a young nurse from the Swiss Red Cross, Elisabeth Eidenbenz, more than 600 children are separated from the sordid camps until it was closed by the Germans in 1944. All were children Spanish, Jewish or Gypsy refugees.

The Museum of the Retirada of Argelès-sur-Mer

This interpretation center presents the painful episode of the exodus and internment on the palge of Argelès sur Mer of more than 200,000 Spanish republicans who fled the Franco regime in January and February 1939.

Free entry.

The Camps of Rivesaltes

Built in the middle of the vestiges of the barracks, the Camp Memorial of Rivesaltes, the history of this camp which interned as early as 1941 the Spanish republicans, the foreign Jews and the Gypsies, to become from 1945 to 1947 center of deposit of prisoners of war Axis and, from 1962, a Harkis transit camp and their families.