Housed in a medieval castle, the museum of prehistory tells the story of the first herders and farmers 6,000 years ago, based on archaeological finds in the Bélesta cave (ornaments, tools, weapons and pottery, some 30 of which are still intact).
The castle is one of three Charles Rennie Mackintosh interpretation centres in the Rousillon region
The museum presents new temporary exhibitions every year.
From June to December 2023, the museum is organising an exciting new exhibition
“Mémoires d’un puits, Les fouilles subaquatiques du puits du fort de Bellegarde (le Perthus)“.
Fort Bellegarde is a 17th-century fortification located on the border between France and Spain, above the town of Le Perthus in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
It was used to control and defend the Perthus pass
Within the fort, in the Saint André bastion, a gigantic well was dug in 1698 to supplement the cisterns, designed to enable the garrison to withstand a prolonged siege.
This colossal well, carved entirely out of the rock, is 63 metres deep and 5.85 metres in diameter. The average height of the water varies between 27 m and 30 m.
It was excavated by volunteer archaeologists and divers from ARESMAR (L’Association pour les Recherches Sous-Marines en Roussillon) during several digs between 1993 and 1997. This was at the request of the SNCF for a risk study (this deep and mysterious well was located above the TGV line and it was not known how it was supplied with water).
ARESMAR represents 25 years of underwater excavations in Catalan waters. It was founded in August 1988 by a team of volunteers, archaeologist-divers and marine sedimentologists, led by Cyr Descamps, its founding president, who was at the time a lecturer in prehistory at the UPVD.
ARESMAR has an agreement with the University of Perpignan-Via Domitia and is a partner of the Centre de Recherches sur les Sociétés et Environnements en Méditerranées (CRESEM, Équipe d’accueil 7397), within which it participates in the activities of the “heritage” section.
The exhibition provides an insight into the well, the excavation techniques used and underwater diving.
It’s a human and scientific epic, combining underwater diving in cold, confined waters, speleology and archaeology, and of course the many and varied discoveries of objects from different periods corresponding to the different occupations of the fort.
The remains are classified by theme and presented in a highly attractive and educational scenography.
The exhibition was inaugurated and presented on Saturday 17th June 2023 in the presence of the enthusiastic members of ARESMAR who took part in the excavations, Frederic Bourniole, Mayor of Bélesta, Louis Baills, President of the Château Musée de Belesta Association, Tarek Kuteni, Director of the Château Musée de Belsta and member of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh en Roussillon Association.
This original exhibition is not to be missed. Make the most of your visit to discover or rediscover the castle-museum and the charming village nestling on a hill, the region and its vineyards – and of course the CRM interpretation centre at Belesta.
From 15th June to 14th September
The museum is open every day from 2pm to 7pm.
From 15th September to 14th June
The museum is open from 2pm to 5.30pm except on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
To find out more about the museum and the historical heritage of Bélesta, click on the link below which will take you to the museum’s website: