OK so if you've lived in a vacuum for the last couple of decades, you may not have heard of Rennes-le-Chateau. It's a small village in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Southern France. The reason its interesting, very, very briefly, is that a penniless priest by the name of Berenger Sauniere, became fabulously wealthy overnight. The source of this wealth, his connections to flamboyant personalities of the time, the number of people that have tried to re-find the source of the wealth, etc. etc. has made the place a major attraction. The story has it all, royalty, murder, intrigue, treasure, religion, political manipulation, and it spans an enormous period of time. I have neither the time nor the resource to try and write a complete account of the tales surrounding this little village and its highly decorated church. I suggest you go to the Links & Books page to reference some of the many people that have written some fascinating books on the subject.
Late Autumn 2000 I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Rennes-le-Chateau with my wife and a friend of ours. (For travel tips see Getting There). We decided to visit on a Sunday, it turned out to be a good job we did as the church at the time was closed during the week for restorations. Follow the links below to see the pictures that I took.
If you can visit for yourself, its a wonderful area for a long weekend, and the sights are truly spectacular.
Click on the thumbs below to go to bigger images. Use the back button on your browser to get back I'm too lazy to put hyperlinks in. If by any chance you want bigger pictures still, let me know and I will E-mail the original shots to you.
|The feature inside the church that most people know, and visitors certainly remember is the statue in the entrance . The hideous creature, beautifully carved and decorated, crouching on the ground is Asmodeus, King of the Earth. Resting on his shoulders is a clam shell filled with water, above which two Salamanders crouch looking over their shoulders at the initials BS for Berenger Saunier. Above all of these are 4 angels, each apparently at a different stage of crossing themselves. The words below read, with this sign you will conquer. Here is a representation of the 4 elements rolled into one depiction. Earth, water, fire and air.|
|The Villa Bethania|
|Garden & Views|
|The Church Yard|
|The Village & Approaches|
|Living in Cathar Land|
|There is quite a lot of property on the market in the area at the moment, and it appears to be very reasonably priced. We found the 2 properties below with no problem. The one on the left is in the centre of Rennes-le-Chateau itself, and there were others on the market. The one on the right is in a village a few miles from Rennes, called Campagne sur Aude. The house is a section of what was once a Knights Templar castle! It was going for a song, but needed some work on it.|