Built in the 11th century, this castle valiantly held out against Simon de Montfort, who led the crusade against the Cathars. "I shall melt the rock like fat and grill its master in it" are the words he is said to have uttered standing before this fortress, which remained impregnable despite his best efforts.
The master of the castle was Raymond Roger de Foix, the great defender of the Cathars. His county was a sanctuary for the persecuted, and he himself was surrounded by women committed to the cause. His wife Philippa was one of the first Cathar believers, his sister Esclarmonde participated in the debate which took place before the crusade between the 'heretics' and the papal legates, and his daughter-in-law was a Catharcredente who was subjected to a terrible posthumous dishonour: in 1269, the Inquisition exhumed and burned her remains.
Even though the count's family had left for the Béarn region (in today's Pyrénées Atlantiques), the Château de Foix continued to symbolise the power of the Foix-Béarn lineage and its most famous son, Gaston Fébus.
Seat of the governor in the 17th and 18th centuries, then a prison until 1862, today the restored château is home to the very interesting Musée Départemental de l’Ariège. This museum recounts the history of the County of Foix, medieval building methods and life in the château, and also holds a number of temporary exhibitions.
The Château de Foix is one of the Great Tourist Sites in Midi-Pyrénées as part of the 'Ariège, 14,000 years of history' collection.