Mataguerre Tower stands at the entrance to Périgueux’s protected historic centre. Once an essential part of the town’s defences, today it is one of the last remaining elements of the original medieval ramparts.
The town of Le Puy Saint-Front, aka the little “Carcassonne” of Périgord !
Not far from the first medieval town, on the site of the tomb of Saint-Front(the patron saint of Périgord), a small, enterprising section of the population, organised themselves into traders and formed what became known as the Cité du Puy Saint-Front. Theserebellious inhabitants refused to submit to the authority of the Count of Périgord, instead swearing allegiance to King Philippe Auguste. So in 1204, they retreated behind a 1500m-long rampart, reinforced by 28 towers and 12 gated entrances. Today, the Mataguerre tower is the last remnant of the original 28 towers.
A tower with a strange destiny
A brief history lesson !
The 15-meter-high Mataguerre Tower is a dramatic reminder of the city’s defensive systems. Restored in 1477, the tower’s conical roof was removed by the architect Molharo to make way for machicolations: openings for dropping rocks or boiling water on enemies .Listed as a French historic monument in 1840, it became town property. At the same time, during the modernisation of Périgueux, the architect Catoire destroyed the ramparts and its towers to make way for the new main roads. The Mataguerre Tower narrowly escaped the same fate as the other towers, thanks only to its recent status as a protected monument.
Inside the tower
A fine example of military architecture
You have to imagine that all the towers on the ramparts were constructed in much the same way: there would have been a prison, a guardroom to prepare for attack and a sentry walk to keep watch. It was strategically very important as it stood at the entrance to the Campniac valley, once a communication route between the Limousin region to the north and the Pyrenees to the south.