|2006||Name change||From "Historic Centre of Avignon" to "Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge"|
|1995||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Clyde (Malta):
I visited this WHS in May 2012. The Papal Palace and bridge are the highlights of this site, however getting lost in the narrow winding streets of Avignon was equally rewarding. The food was delicious and the wine divine.
Date posted: September 2012 Thibault Magnien (France):
The historic centre of Avignon, comprises the Cité des Papes and the bridge but also the Cathedral Notre Dame des Doms, the Jardin des Doms, the Petit Palais museum and the wall surrounding the historic centre of the town. They're all of interests but obviously, the pope's castle is the main thing to visit and offers a great testimony of the medieval french life. Give a look at the beautiful paintings on the ceiling of several rooms and enjoy walking on the Avignon old bridge that offers a great view of the Popes' castle.
Date posted: March 2012 Ian Cade (England):
Avignon was a fantastic place, where we spent the best part of a week in late September, enjoying the city and travelling to the cluster of WHS within easy travelling distance of it.
The main sights here are in a cluster at the northern end of town. The main sight is Palace des Papes; despite being mostly empty I really enjoyed taking the audio tour around here. One year before I had visited the Vatican and it was great to be able to contrast the two, and basically see what the Vatican would have been like if it was built in a Gothic style. There is a wine tasting exhibit as you exit and I can thoroughly recommend this as it is a great and fairly cheap introduction to the wines of the Rhone region, there are very few places better to drink Château-Neuf-Du-Pape, than in le Château-Vieux-Du-Pape. A walk around the outside of the complex will reveal how massive the complex is. It will also take you to the great gardens, which offer fantastic views of the Rhone.
The Cathedral and Petit Palace are situated on the same square as the Palace, and are worth the time to explore. The other major part of the inscription lies just outside the city walls; this is the famous Pont St Benezet/ Pont de Avignon. This is half a bridge with a little chapel on it; I must admit we didn’t pay to go on the bridge instead we preferred to view it for free from the banks of the Rhone. Just up stream from the bridge there is a free boat to take you back and forth to Ile de la Barthelesse, which offers the best view of the whole ensemble (picture), also great budget accommodation.
The rest of the city inside the impressive looking walls is a really lovely place to stroll around and lose yourself. The city seems to be chock full of bars and restaurants, the ones on Place d’Horlage cater mostly to tourists, however the charming rue des Teinturiers has some fantastic restaurants and a great atmosphere. I can give a huge personal recommendation to Wollomoooloo, which was one of the best dinning experinces i have had, the food at l’Orangerie on Place Jerusalem was also fantastic.
Avignon is a great place to base yourself for viewing Provence, including 3 other WHS. It has great transport connections with its brand new TGV station just out of town, with regular services to Paris, Lyon etc. and once a week to London!
We had a fantastic time here, and there is plenty to see and do. A very fine World Heritage Site.
David Berlanda (Italy / Czech Republic):
In our trip to France we have visited the beautiful city of Avignon. In 1309 the Pope Clement V left Rome and moved to the Vaclause zone, where seven years later John XXII chose this town as his residence. In 1377 Gregory XI moved back to Rome and Avignon was the residence only of other two antipopes and some Apostolic Legates; in 1791 became part of France. On a big square, created with demolishing of part of the medieval town, is the huge Popes’ Palace, a great Gothic building divided in two parts, the Old Palace of Benedict XII, that demolished the old episcopal palace where John XXII lived to built a new one, and the New Palace of Clement VI; the works for the 15165 sq. m. large building finished after twenty years of work. It has a starcaise (17th century) bringing to the gate of Champereux, that consists in two low modern towers (1932); there are are also two courts, one of which is 1800 sq. m. large and contains the remains of the Audience Chambre of the old episcopal palace, and some towers: de Trouillas (52 m high), of St. John, of St. Lawrence, des Anges, de la Gache, d'Angle, de la Campane. On the ground floor, in the Wing of the Great Dignitaries is the Great Audience Chamber, where convened the tribunal, that has two naves with big pillars and a fragment of fresco with prophets painted by Matteo Giovannetti. The Clementine Chapel, 52 m by 15 m and 19,5 m high, has a groin ogival vaulting, supported by a flying butress that spans the neighbouring street, and the original altar; the portal with nice statues is faced by the Window of the Indulgence from which the Pope gave the blessings to the crowd. In the sacristy, situated in the Tower of St. Lawrence, built under Innocent VI, is the gravestone of the tomb of Gregory VI. The Deer Room, that was the day room of Clement VI, has beautiful frescos by Giovannetti and his assistans with profane and rural scenes and of hunting. In the Pope's Room are frescos with floral motifs with trees, vines, birds and squirrels. The Tinel has barrel vaults, a nice fireplace and frescos by Giovannetti; near that are the Chamber of the Vestments, that contains four tapestries, and the chapel of St. Martial, with frescos by Giovannetti. In the Consistory Hall convened the assembly of the cardinals, foreign kings and legates and contains frescos by Simone Martini that were in the porch of the cathedral. The chapel of St. John has frescos by Giovannetti and the Camerlengo's Room has the original ceiling; near that is the Hall of Jesus and the Treasury. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame-des-Doms in Romanesque style (12th century) and his complex of episcopal buildings were replaced in the 15th and 17th century by the present building. The east tower was destroyed in 1405 during the siege of the town by the antipope Benedict XIII and reconstructed. The cloister was destructed because of the demolition and reconstruction in an enlarged form of the apse. The façade has a porch with classical columns and a gilt statue of the Virgin (1859). The building has a nave with lateral Gothic chapels, tribunes and a Romanesque dome and contains the episcopal chair, the tombs of John XXII and of Benedict XII, statues and the treasure. The Small Palace, built in the 14th century after the demolition of medieval houses as a cardinal's residence, acquired by John XXII to compensate the Bishop for the demolition of his palace to permit the construction of the Pope's Palace and reconstructed in the 14th and 15th centuries, has a nice room with frescos and a nice fireplace. The big gardens Rocher des Doms are situated on a high rock where begin the ramparts, built in the 14th century to defend the town and separate it from the river, strengthened and reconstructed also by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, with a lot of towers, like the octagonal tower des Chiens (15th century) and the tower of Châtelet, that gives access to the famous Saint-Bénézet bridge. It was constructed on stone piers of a Roman bridge in the 13th century to replace a wooden bridge, destroyed in 1226 in a French siege during the Albigensian crusade, and to go over the river Rhone to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and only 4 arches of 22 remain of it because it fell down after the opening of the vents in 1562. On the second pier is constructed the Romanesque chapel of St. Nicolas, with two floors and a polygonal apse constructed in the 15th century.
Avignone is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen because of its high degree of impresiveness and quality. It's absolutely worth to be visited and justifies the inscription also because of its historical importance, but I think that could be inscribed with the nearby second papal town of Villeneuve-lés-Avignon.
Photo: Avignon - Pope's Palace
Date posted: January 2006
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