Architecture Around the World

2015 photos - Maison Forte de Reignac
(pron. ray nyac)
24620 Tursac, France - about 150 km east of Bordeaux

Listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1964

Exterior photos

Interior photos

History of the Maison in Art

The roughly 300 acre estate included 10 smallholdings or farms where around 40 people worked.

The Middle Ages began in the 5th century and finished at the end of the 15th century, the beginning of the Renaissance.

The Maison Forte de Reignac
is a kind of fortified Manor House that has been built into the rock. The majority of its roof is the overhanging cliff that is above it. Its modest appearance on the outside belies the scale of the building on the inside.

The Maison Forte de Reignac has been closed to the public until recently. It is now the only cliff-castle of its type in France that is so totally intact.

The front of the house was built in the 14th century [Middle Ages] and its windows added in the 16th century [Renaissance], though the rock shelter has been occupied since historic times.

A tour of the building reveals many rooms with their period furnishings but each room has the odd anomaly of a stone wall or stone roof as most are built of stone at the front with windows etc but at the back of the room the wall or ceiling is the rock of the cliffs into which the house has been built.

The combination of the rock roof and rear walls and various defensive features of the chateau mean that it is one of the strongest of the Dordogne.

The rooms include kitchen, dining room, living room and chapel amongst others.


The Dordogne region of south-west France is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in the country. ...  chateaux, beautiful medieval towns and villages, unspoiled countryside and prehistoric caves ...

Omega Digital: Maison Forte de Reignac: The Most Unsusal Castle in France
By Ron Engeldinger
(online Dec. 2015)

Every year millions of tourists visit the renowned castles of Europe, but very few of them find their way to the Maison Forte de Reignac, a masterpiece of medieval construction located near the tiny village of Tursac in the Dordogne Region of southern France.

High above the Vezere River, the visitor sees a castle emerge from the face of the sheer cliff. Half-buried in the surface of the limestone precipice, this fortress is unique among the country’s many chateaux. In French this type of castle is known as a “chateau falaise” or cliff castle, and this is the best preserved of the few cliff castles that still remain in France.

This 14th-century citadel is carved into a grotto where Cro-Magnon man first made a home. The cave holds evidence of more than 20,000 years of human habitation. Additional construction occurred in the 16th century but little has changed since then.

Originally built as a secure defensible fortification from which the lord of the manor could watch over his property and protect it from raiders, the castle now sits quietly above the river valley offering grand views.

Unlike many French castles, Maison Forte de Reignac was never involved in any major battle and it is doubtful that it would have withstood an attack from a large well-armed force. However, the defenses were ideal to keep the inhabitants safe from marauding bandits. Once the stronghold of descendants of the famous French pirate Jean Bart, the castle has been home to many rulers over the centuries.

Listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, for decades the privately owned site was open solely to researchers. In 2006, the current owner opened the castle for the public to enjoy.

Photos and their arrangement 2015 Chuck LaChiusa
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