The King's Keep

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Office de Tourisme du Grand Saint-Emilionnais
Place du Clocher - 33330 Saint-Emilion

05 57 55 28 28

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Saint-Émilion from above

 

The “castel daou rey " meaning the King’s Keep, is the only romanesque keep still intact in Gironde. Located inside the walls of the city, the building rests on a rocky massif isolated from all sides and dug in natural caves and quarries exploited since the Middle Ages. From the floor of the lowest terrace to the top, we notice a height of 32m.

 

This quadrangular tower, 14,50 meters high, and 9,50 meters square is divided into three levels. The exterior walls and the corner of the building are covered with flat buttresses that reinforce the building.

 

Historians diverges on the date of construction … In 1224, King of France, Louis VIII, said the Lion, conquered a part of Aquitaine including the Bordelais. His troops occupied Saint-Émilion and he would have confirmed its intention to build a intramural fortification. However some texts indicate that it is Henri III Plantagenêt, king of England and Duke of Aquitaine, who in 1237, ordered its construction, when Saint-Emilion came under English control again.

 

Is a king at its origin? The mystery remains. There would be a third hypothesis who would be possible: the term " King " indicates a royal construction or a royal possession at any given time. Period which we recall is troubled by the Hundred Years' War in which we can imagine that either a French or English flag was hoisted at the top of this tower.

 

Finally, some experts say that it is not thanks to the king of France, nor by the king of England that this tower was realized but thanks to the Jurade. Indeed, the tower is designed to symbolize the new power of the town by borrowing the stately architecture the most characteristic edifice: the quadrangular keep with buttresses.

Moreover, there is no building called Town Hall, whereas in the 13th century, Saint-Emilion was the second largest city in the Bordeaux region. Thus, this tower probably had the function of a town hall.

Anyway, Jurade still uses this tower today. Although the Jurade was dissolved during the French Revolution, it was recreated as a wine-marking brotherhood in 1948. Its goal ? It is to assure the wine’s promotion of Saint-Emilion in the world. The jurats meet at the top of the tower to proclaim the New Wine Judgment in June and the Grape Harvest in September.

 

You can climb the 118 steps of the tower to access the panorama roof that offers impregnable view of the city.

 

Access from February to December.

Rates:
2 € per person
Free for children under 6 years.

 

 

DAYS AND OPENING HOURS OF THE KING'S KEEP IN 2019  

 
 

 

July 14th to August 18th:
Everyday :11:00am-7:00pm


August 19th to 25th : 
Everyday :11:00am-6:00pm

August 26th to September 1st : 
Week day : 11:00am-12:15pm/2:00pm-6:00pm
Weekend and bank holiday : 11:00am-6:00pm

 

September 2nd to 29th :
Week day : 11:00am-12:15pm/2:00pm-6:00pm

Weekend : 11:00am-6:00pm

Closed all day on 21st and 22nd of September for the European Heritage Days.

 

September 30th to November 3rd : 
Week day : 2:00pm-5:30pm
Weekend and bank holiday : 11:00am-12:15pm/2:00pm-5:30pm

 

November 4th to December 15th : 
Week day : closed
Weekend and bank holiday : 14:15pm-4:30pm

 

December 16th to 22nd : 
Week day : closed

Weekend and bank holiday: 2:00pm-5:00pm

 

December 23rd to 31st : 
December 24th, 25th and 31st : closed
Everyday: 2:00pm-5:00pm

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