In a perfect symbiosis between history, heritage and beautiful landscapes, French Brittany awaits its visitors with open arms. Traveling to this region in the west of the Gallic country immediately transports us to the Middle Ages , to a time when war forced the building of imposing fortresses to defend against the enemy.

It is through these castles that we can fully delve into the chronology of the region, understand its legends and traditions and learn in detail the comings and goings of its military history . The options are many, and it is that these lands of thick vegetation and perfectly preserved towns are full of fortifications that have witnessed battles and contests. However, the Brittany Tourist Office recommends a specific selection of five key castles that we can visit and discover through a wonderful route.

Fougeres Castle

The first stop on this journey through history is the city of Fougères and its skyline marked by a mass of granite. Its castle is simply huge, and it is one of the largest fortresses in all of Europe. It was at the beginning of the year 1000 when, at a crossroads of important trade routes, the original castle was built with the aim of defending the border of the Duchy of Brittany. Therefore, the huge fortification, during five centuries of reforms and improvements, was in the middle of the struggles between powers in the area.

Castle of Fougeres.

Fougères Castle.

After becoming an unbeatable military building, it now stands as a living witness to the war history of the region. After abandoning its defense mission, the castle was a prison and even a shoe factory, but now it is open for visits and houses museum collections and an interactive tour of the courtyard and its three towers that plunges us fully into the Middle Ages.

Vitre Castle

We continue the route towards the south and we arrive at Vitré . The castle overlooks the River Vilaine and the historic center of the commune from a slate promontory, marking the town’s skyline with its majestic towers and turrets.

Castillo de Vitre.

Vitré Castle.

In the 11th century, construction began on a fortress to defend the entrance to the Duchy of Brittany, as Vitré enjoyed an important strategic location. The Romanesque portal of that first construction can still be seen in the castle courtyard. Later, during the first half of the 13th century, the current building began to rise around the original work. Towers were added to the corners of the walls, the drawbridge, archers… in short, all the elements of a fortified castle.

Over time, its use became residential and years later it was used as a prison. To this day, this medieval masterpiece houses the Vitré Town Hall, as well as the Museum of Art and History . The cultural center exhibits pieces as valuable as a 15th century triptych with 32 scenes from the life of Christ; religious goldsmith pieces from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; liturgical vestments, and medieval and Renaissance sculptures.

Josselin Castle

We turn to the east and direct our steps towards Josselin . In the heart of the town, stands its imposing castle, on the banks of the Oust River. For ten centuries, this incredible residence has been inhabited by the Rohan family .

Joselin Castle.

Josselin Castle.

At the beginning of the 11th century, the Vicomte de Porhoët decided to settle in the place, and over the years elements were added to this construction. However, the splendor of the castle ended when the religious wars of the 17th century and later the French Revolution prompted its degradation. After years of neglect, in 1850 the building was restored and became a residence again, still belonging to the Rohan family.

Visitors will be able to enter the interior of this building with a flamboyant Gothic façade, admire its detailed decoration and walk through its impeccable gardens full of yews, boxwoods, rose bushes, hydrangeas and stone sculptures.

Castle of Suscinio

We continue the route until we reach the southern coast of the region. The Rhuys peninsula juts out into the sea like a tongue of land and sand. In this territory that combines marshes, soft sand beaches and rocky coasts, stands the Castle of Suscinio, surrounded by wetlands and forests that extend over the Landrezac cove.

Castle of Suscinio.

Suscinio Castle.

In the 13th century, Suscinio was just a priory around which an agricultural estate developed. However, it was the Dukes of Brittany who promoted its growth. First, they built a small manor house and, later, this was renovated until it became the favorite residence of the Dukes and of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France. To this day, the vast fortress has come as a huge walled building with six towers and surrounded by moats.

Trevarez Castle

Finally, to the east of the region we find the town of Saint-Goazec . There, in the foothills of the Black Mountains, James de Kerjégu, a wealthy politician, decided to build an impressive and ambitious pink castle in contrast to the greenery that surrounds it.

Trevarez Castle.

Trévarez Castle.

More than a century ago the Castle of Trévarez was built in the heart of a leafy 85-hectare park and has survived to this day in a marked Belle Epoque style with very modern facilities for the time it was built. Immersed in a rural environment in which oil lamps were still used for lighting, the Domaine de Trévarez had electricity, a hot water heating system, a telephone and an elevator.

During World War II, it was owned by the Germans, and was even bombed. After years of neglect, it was restored, and today you can visit the dining room and library, as well as the old stables, which now host art exhibitions. In addition, the land surrounding the castle offers us several important botanical collections, such as one of the largest camellia gardens in the world.

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