Albera Viva Randonnée. Sunday 16th December. Sorède – Roc
de les Medes – Ultréra – Chapelle, Notre Dame du Château
Winding our way high into the hills that form the Vallée ˙
Heureuse, we soon enjoyed a bird’s eye view that stretched
along the Côte Vermeille towards Perpignan and encompassed
Canigou and the chain of the Pyrénées. Mt Bugarach and the
Corbières were visible in the distance, thanks to the crystal
clear 17ªC day – perfect for a randonnée.
Perched on a rock, with Argelès-sur-Mer clinging to the
Mediterranean coast below, le Château d’Ultréra’s name is
derived from ‘vulture’. Lower ramparts, with their stones in
‘arête de poisson’ or ‘fish bone’formation, date to the 6th
Century, yet its origins are Roman.
Transformed into a Visigoth stronghold, the site changed hands
throughout many ages until finally being destroyed, upon the
signing of the Treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659 – due to its
strategic defensive position as it could just as easily be
used for the eye of the ‘enemy’, the enduring legacy of the
frontière, as layer upon layer of settlement marks the passage
of the ‘possessors’ of this terrain.
Now in Roussillon, the only reminder of its former grandeur is
inside Notre Dame du Château, just below the château’s towering
edifice in the shadows of the mountain. Having already survived
its move to safety and then fire, the chapel’s altarpiece and
side entrance marbles allow a glimpse of the age of the seigneurs
of the region.