THE GEM OF THE VERMIGLIA COAST
Collioure is the true gem of the Vermiglia coast, which extends amongst the red, vine covered hillside and the deep blue sea, right up to the Spanish frontier. Positioned between the two gulfs and dominated by the castle of the Kings of Majorca. It features a series of ancient streets and opens out over the vast Mediterranean with its splendid coastline, made up of lovely picture postcard beaches.
During the course of the centuries, this magical centre has experienced changing fortunes: it was at one time a Roman fortress, port of the Knights of the temple during the crusade period, then a fisherman’s village, and then finally the mythical centre of fine painters in the early 1900’s. With its twin inland centre of Céret it still preserves in its museums the works of the great artists inspired by its magnificent skyline.
THE ROYAL CASTLE
Built between the 13th and 14th century, the brief Reign of Majorca selected Collioure as the summer residence of the sovereigns. The castle still bears traces of its residential functions, such as the 13th century chapel and the Queen’s chamber.
It was then restored to its military vocation, becoming a fortress and was enlarged for this purpose by Vauban in the 17th century at the expense of the ancient hamlet, as the houses were burnt to the ground to make way for the new town walls. It continued to serve the purpose as both a fortress and prison until the II world War. Today its superb bastions provide a spectacular view over the hamlet and the open sea.
The path of “Fauvisme”
Discovered in 1905 by Matisse and Derain, Collioure became, together with Cèret a valuable meeting place for many of the great names of the painting world: Braque, Fujita, Picasso and Dali all frequented this idyllic spot, set amidst vineyards and the sea. It is possible to say that the aesthetic “fauvisme” movement actually had its origins here.
Its artistic importance is highlighted by a series of 20 panels along the streets of the village, depicting some of the most significant works of the time. Collioure continues to attract artists today as testified by the many painters to be found with their easels at every angle, attempting to capture the intrinsic Beauty that is characteristic of this part of the world.
The great Spanish poet Antonio Machado is buried in a small cemetery enclosed in the heart of Collioure. He fled from Spain following the Civil war in which he defended the Republic against the risings of Francisco Franco. Machado spent his last weeks of life here, before his death in February 1939. His verse testifying to this sorrowful period of exile“Lord, that which I loved has been taken from me,Listen to my heart shouting o Lord,I have acted according to your will, against my own,We are alone, dear God, this heart and that sea”.