The Zizim Tower remains the emblematic monument of the medieval city of Bourganeuf nestled in the Creuse. Built between 1484 and 1486, this tower was the prison of the Ottoman prince who gave the tower its name: Prince Zizim, or Prince Djem.
Prince Djem was the second son of the Ottoman emperor Mehmet II. When the emperor died, his two sons clashed in trying to take over his throne. Prince Bajazet took advantage of his brother Prince Djem, such that Prince Djem had to go into exile and ask for help from the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem. After many negotiations, Pierre d'Aubusson, grand masters of the Knights Hospitaller made Prince Djem his political prisoner and had him led to France with a company of his troops.
Bourganeuf was the site of a castle which had been built by the Knights Hospitallers between 1150 and 1160. Its purpose was to accommodate travellers and pilgrims and act as a hospital for the sick. A staging post for merchants and pilgrims, the castle was transformed into a Commandery around 1200, and in 1367, the residence became the seat of the Grand Priory of Auvergne. The Zizim Tower, now listed as a historic monument, was built in 1484 to accommodate the Prince Djem. Its huge round-shaped construction includes seven vaulted floors and a machicolated galetas/attic. The walls are almost 3m thick and a beautiful spiral staircase leads to all floors to the platform.
Guided tours of the tower are provided by staff of the Bourganeuf Tourist Office and details of these can be found here.
From 9th April to 11 May, from 15th June to 30th June and from 1st Spetember to 15th September : Wednesday from 10am until midday and from 3pm to 6pm, and Saturday from 2:30pm until 6pm.
Please note! The Zizim tower hosts the firework display for the National holiday, so it will be closed on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th July.
Guided visit (in Dutch): Wednesdays at 11am from the 1st July until 31st August.
Guided visit (in English): Thursdays at 11am from the 1st July until 31st August.
Guided visits for groups available all year by appointment.
Unguided Visit: €2/adult and free for children under-12.
Guided visit: €4/adult and €1/child for under-12s
Children can rent knights and princess costumes for €1.
Reservations through the Tourist Office (Bourganeuf) for the guided visits is recommended as places on the visit are limited.