ollioure  Sempre endavant, mai morirem

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Spring 2010 - in Languedoc-Roussillon

Together with Christophe, our local guide, we were driving the coastal road, Route des Vignes, from Argelès-sur-Mer. The landscape here changes from flat lowlands with golden sandy beaches along the coastline of the Golfe du Lion, to an increasingly hilly terrain where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean Sea, creating a coastline with craggy, rocky beaches and small, idyllic coves and bays.

As we rounded the last corner and looked down to Collioure, we knew that this was the city we had been searching for. Small and large (not too big) houses on the heights and hills that surround an idyllic, old town with castles and towers and a beautiful small bay with the bluest Mediterranean sea you could imagine. The slopes around the town are dominated by a number of wine yards, and high up on the mountain behind the town rises a
  characteristic
 castle. 

We visited several of the beautiful towns of Roussillon, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-mer, Céret, Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines, Argeles-sur-Mer and others. All were worth a visit - but deep down we knew all along that we had already found our city: Collioure.

Utsikt nordover mot Golfe du Lion

 

Collioure is located in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, about 30 km south of Perpignan and about 35 km from the Spanish border, counted by road via Le Boulou.
 

The name Collioure is pronounced in French: kåljure and in Catalan: cotlliure, and the city is a municipality with about 3000 inhabitants, in the department Pyrenees-Orientales.

The city is situated on the Mediterranean coast, the part which stretches from Argeles-sur-Mer and south to the Spanish border and is known as Côte Vermeille (Catalan: Costa Vermella, which means "vermilion coast").

The landscape here, at the end of the Pyrenees, is hilly with a rocky, jagged and varied coastline. Only a few miles farther north begin the sunny sandy beaches which Southern France is so famous for, and which extends for miles north to the Rohne delta.

 

 

The picture:

View towards the north, Argelès-sur-Mer and the coastline of the Golfe du Lion

 

 

 

History
Collioure thus belong in the ancient landscape of Catalonia which was a flourishing province already in the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the 400-century Catalonia was occupied by the Germanic Visigoths and later by the moors (712). Emperor Charlemagne incorporated the area in his kingdom, and called it Marca Hispanica (The Spanish Land). Marca Hispanica were divided into 15 counties with Barcelona as the most important. When Charles II died in 888,  the county of Barcelona became independent and took the name Principality of Catalonia.

In 1137 Catalonia was, along with Valencia and the Balearic Islands, incorporate in the Kingdom of Aragon. Under Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516) Catalonia became a part of Spain.

Kingdom of Majorca (Mallorca) was established by James I of Aragon ("The Conqueror") who reigned as king of Aragon from 1213 to 1276.

The kingdom of Majorca existed from 1276 to 1349, and included the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Formentera and Ibiza), the counties of Rousillon and Cerdagne (today's northern Catalonia), and the territories James had  in Occitania (Montpellier, Carlades and barony of Aumelas). Capital of this kingdom was, because of trade and diplomacy, on the mainland in Perpignan.

After James' death in 1276, the kingdom was taken over by his second son, who reigned under the name of James II of Majorca. In 1344 James III was deposited by his cousin, king Peter IV of Aragon, and was killed in 1349 in the attempt to reconquer the kingdom. The title King of Mallorca existed after that in name only.

 

By the Pyrenees Treaty of 1659 between France and Spain the northern Catalonia was geographically separated and given to France, and became the province of Roussillon. Later the province was included in the French department Pyrénées-Orientales with Perpignan (Perpinya) as administrative center.

Collioure has always been a sought after place because of its opening to the Mediterranean Sea, with two good harbours. easy defendable against attacks. In 673 the city was occupied by the Visigoth king Wamba and it is said that he gave the town the name "caucoliberis, which means "harbour to Elne", and this shows that already then it was an important port city. Archaeological findings show that the city was used by both
Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.

 

From the year 981 the princes of Roussillon began to build a fortress in Collioure, what today is Le Château Royal in the middle of the town. In the twelfth century Temple knights stayed here, and in the period 1276 to 1344 the castle was used as a summer residence for the kings of Mallorca.

In 1642 there was war between France and Spain, and King Louis XIII besieged and conquered Collioure with an army of 10000 men, among them were the king's Musketeers led by Turenne and dArtagnan!


After the city became French, the strongholds of the city, including Fort Saint-Elme, were developed and improved  by the military engineer Marquis de Vauban.
 

Links to more information about the kingdom of Aragon and the kings of Mallorca:

Grand Priory of Terra Nordica   http://www.mocterranordica.org

The MOC Charitable Foundation   http://www.mocfoundation.org

Real Aula Mallorquesa   http://realaula.homestead.com

Royal Aragonese College of Arms  http://royalaragonese.homestead.com

History of Roussillon   http://histoireduroussillon.free.fr/Villages/Histoire/Collioure.php

 

  

Collioure has always kept a strong attachment to the Catalan culture, and  the Catalan language is still used by many.

The city's motto in Catalan is: Sempre endavant, mai morirem which means something like: "Always forward, we will never die"

When flags are hoisted in Collioure, as elsewhere in Roussillon, usually at least three flags are used: the French, the EU flag and the Catalan flag.

Residents of Collioure truly feel like French, but still mostly Catalans.

Picture:

The Catalan flag "Quatre Barres" with red stripes on yellow background, is supposed to be the oldest national flag in Europe.
 

 

 

Catalonia (La Catalogne, Catalunya, Cataluña) is first and foremost the spanish, autonomous region in the north-eastern part of Spain, where the capital city is Barcelone. But in the Catalan region is also included other landscapes, a.o. most of the størstedelen av Pyrénées-Orientales in southern France, in Spain called Catalunya Nord and in France Pays Catalan.

 

For immemorial times, people have been living here, and the area was part of the pre-roman Iberian culture. There were Greeks, and Phoenician and Carthaginian colonies, and later the area belonged to the province of Hispania in the Roman Empire.
For a Scandinavian, it is interesting to know that, after the Roman Empire went into dissolution, Catalonia was conquered by the Goths. First came the Vandals and then, from about 415, the Visigoths (West Goths). The last Visigoth king was Roderic, who lived until the year 711, when the country was conquered by the Muslims.

The meaning of the name 
Catalonia is uncertain, but one of the meanings derives from the Visigoths who called the land Gothia. As we know, they probably had their name from Gotland and Götaland. Gothia means "the land of the Goths, and is the same as Goth Land or Gothlandia, which may have become Chatalonia.

 

 

Link to Collioure Office de Tourisme

Link: Utsnitt av kart over Collioure

 

 

Collioure webcamera  

 

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