Castle des Allymes★★★☆☆
The Castle of the Allymes represents the only example of a medieval fortress in Bugey (a historical region in eastern France, located between Lyon and Geneva).
The castle was originally built in the late 13th century by the Dauphin of Viennois (at that time the ruler of the lands), to protect the people from attacks that were devastating the country. The fortress was constructed in a commanding position, overlooking the plain of Ain from a height of some 800m. It also had a strategic military location, near the border with Savoy, which was then an independent state.
The castle was initially built of earth and wood to fight the Savoyard influence. A few years later, both sides agreed to build no more new structures. The truce was little respected, and each side hurried to fortify their positions. At Allymes, the original stronghold was thus transformed into a stone fortress.
In 1601, King Henri IV succeeded in reuniting Bugey to the Kingdom of France. The castle passed to Rene de Lucinge, the Savoyard ambassador to the French king (Savoy remained an independent state) who swore allegiance to Henri IV. Rene was a writer, humanist and historian and he left detailed records about his life and his major renovation works on the surrounding wall and the castle.
Allymes changed hands several times until the French Revolution; after that, it fell into disrepair until a descendant of the last owners bought the property in 1847 and undertook restoration works that included repairing the curtain walls and renovating the round tower.
The castle has been the object of many restoration programs in the second part of the last century. In 1984, it became the property of the village of Amberieu-en-Bugey and today, it is managed and maintained by an association of friends of the castle.
The castle today
The Chateau des Allymes is open to the public. Guided tours, events and exhibitions are scheduled each year. The castle is representative for a medieval stronghold: an ancient stone structure built on top of a hill and commanding the plain below. It consists of two towers, a large cylindrical keep of the Roman type and a round tower which are connected by four curtain walls. A large exterior wall of about 90 meters that ends in a small tower was meant to protect the nearby town. The towers offer incredible views of the surrounding plains.
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