Art & Architecture

article | Reading time4 min

The tower of masks

la tour des masques et les remparts

Of the five towers originally built, the Mask Tower is the only one outside the twin towers still standing today.

Its role

Do you know the origin of its name?

"Masco" means "witch" in Provençal. It was given this name because Protestant heretics were imprisoned there during the Wars of Religion.

It had several functions: it was both a living space for the garrisons and a prison.

On the floor and walls, you can see graffiti. One of them depicts a game of mérelle . The map was probably drawn by a soldier - or a prisoner - wishing to pass the time. On the walls are Latin phrases engraved by Protestant prisoners.

jeu de mérelle gravée dans le sol de la tour des masques
Jeu de mérelle

© Romain Veillon / CMN

Its architecture

The tower is a defensive structure.

The entrance corridor is dominated by a small bridge that could be used as a stunner. It could also be used as a freight elevator to avoid the narrow staircase.

The main room is a cross-vaulted hall whose keystone, 10 meters high, bears an illegible coat of arms. It is lit by four cushioned firing niches with arches. Each one allows two soldiers to stand facing each other, each on a bench, so as to keep an eye on the enemy and take turns shooting while they reload their bow or crossbow.

In the 17th century, this room was divided into three levels, as can still be seen from the holes drilled in the walls where the beams supporting the wooden floors were fixed.

Intérieur de la tour des masques.
Intérieur de la tour des masques

© Geoffroy Mathieu / CMN

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