The village, or maybe it’s really a small town, of Bram is at the crossing of two ancient roads – The Via Aquitaine, between Narbonne and Toulouse and the road which goes between the departement of the AriÃ¨ge and the Montagne Noire, which made it an important trading place, once called “Eboromagnus”.
The site has been inhabited since the 2nd century BC, many finds have discovered remnant of amphoras of wine from as far afield as Africa, Italy and Spain, dating from the Roman empire and was the biggest settlement between Toulouse and Carcassonne.
The name changed through time from Eboromagnus to Brom and finally Bram, and is the best preserved “Circulade” or circular village in Europe.
Most of the trade in the immediate vicinity was pottery, agriculture and forges, mainly set up to repair the wheels of the wagons and carts that passed through this bustling trade route.
One of the most notable and cruel episodes in Bram’s history was during the time of The Crusade des Albigeois, led by Simon de Montfort.
In 1210, the village underwent a siÃ¨ge of 3 days by Simon de Montforts “CroisÃ©s”, before being captured.
De Montfort took 100 of the villagers, plucked out their eyes and cut of their noses, tied them all together in a line, which was then led by one person whom, de Monfort left one eye intact, to the ChÃ¢teau to taunt and scare the inhabitants of the ChÃ¢teau de Cabaret (Today it is the ChÃ¢teaux of Lastours) which still resisted the attacks of the croisÃ©s. The line of prisoners were then led, by the one that had one eye left, to be burnt at the stake.
Bram was taken by the Huguenots in 1582, during the Wars of Religion, and later retaken by the Catholics and remained under the rule of the Barons de Lordat until The French Revolution.
The town relived it’s rich past with the commercial renaissance due to its situation close to The Canal du Midi after 1789.
Another stain on the history of the town came in 1939 with the building of an internment camp for refugees of The Spanish Civil War, which was closed in 1941 – there is a monument to this tragic period near the road to MontrÃ©al, which imprisoned 30,000 prisoners.
The circulade, is worth a visit with its central church of Saint Julien and Sainte Basilisse, dating from 1211, although it is much easier to discern the circular nature of the old town from the air.
The port on the canal du Midi at Bram is also a great place for a walk and a picnic.
Le parc des Essars is an English style arboretum surrounding a magnificent house dating from 1760.
There are also two small chapels in Bram – La Chapelle de L’assomption dating from the XIX century andÂ La chapelle Notre-Dame-de-MisÃ©ricorde. Legend has it that a farm worker found a statue of The Virgin Mary in a field and brought it to the local priest, who put it on the altar in the church. The next day, the statue was found again in the field, after further attempts to put the statue in the church and finding it again in the field, it was then put in a tree trunk close to where it was found next to a spring – which was reputed to possess healing powers.
A must visit in Bram, is the archaeology museum situated on the first floor of the information centre – although it is a bit expensive for such a small exhibition at 4â‚¬ for adults and 1â‚¬ for children.