Fortified City of Carcassonne
The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne is a medieval town which structure has evolved since the Late Roman period. The site consists of 3km long fortifications, which enclose the castle, medieval town cathedral.
The fortress was thoroughly restored from 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. This restoration has been strongly criticized, as it was not overly authentic (for example in the use of slates, where local practice was traditionally of tile roofing).
Visit April 2013
I reached Carcassonne around midday, already pretty tired after a flight from NL to Toulouse ànd waking up at 4.30 am discovering a burglar hanging on the outside of my apartment block. I arrived at the parking lot outside Carcassonne's La Cité safely though. The welcoming sight of the Porte Narbonnaise, the entry gate, made me happy though.
Some of the best views of this fortified town I had from the highway. There's also a viewpoint there, but that turned out just too far away to get great photos. The sight of the city with all those turrets and towers (45 of them) is surely one to behold.
I walked between the two rows of city walls, a pleasant short hike. Unfortunately the city is somewhat of an empty shell. The fortifications are in great shape, but there's not a lot to see inside. I visited the castle, where the steep 8.5 EUR entrance fee wasn't really worth it. During the summer holidays Carcassonne reportedly is one big tourist trap, and though it was pretty quiet now it is easy to see that the souvenir shops and restaurants have taken over from real life within the walls.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Ingemar Eriksson (Sweden):|
This site really looks genuine from medivial times. Incredible that they have been able to restore it looking so old and genuine. But the trick was of course to "abandon" the fortified town and build a new one below which could handle all the new needs state and people had.
Fortified Carcassonne really gives the scene for medivial dreams.
| Date posted: June 2012|
|John Booth (New Zealand):|
Of all the walled cities on the WHS list, this is my least favourite. The place seemed to have been turned into one huge outdoor restaurant. It was impossible to move through the streets without falling over someone's dining table. At least the traffic (apart from motor scooters and delivery vans) was kept out. Not a visitor-friendly place.
| Date posted: May 2010|
|Nikki Smith (Scotland):|
I originally visited South France to see my best friend, who moved there when she was 8. It was her mum who suggested that we see Carcassonne. I wasnt expecting much but it was amazing! The amount of shops would make your eyes pop! Its built in an absolutely beautiful and hustoric landscape and I hope I can go and visit again soon.
| Date posted: March 2010|
|Mary Conahand (USA):|
Carcassonne is a beautiful town with towering turrets. If you are going to France i DEFINETLY recomend going to Carcassonne!The tours are worth your while although they might be a tad expensive, they are worth it! If you are wanting to go to Carcassonne there are plenty of websites which will help you find the perfect holiday!
|David Berlanda (Italy / Czech Republic):|
In our trip to France we have visited the stunning town of Carcassonne, that was a pre-Roman town, a Roman colony and then was conquered by Visigoths, Saracens, and Franks (under which was the capital of a county), under which became the capital of a county. It became prosperous in the period of the city-republics and then became part of the kingdom of France under the king Louis IX. The stunning fortifications, restored in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation, that also added the roofs of the towers, consist in two lines of walls and in a castle, for a total length of more than 3 km. The internal walls are 1250 m long and have twenty-six round or horseshoe-shaped towers and follow the Late Roman walls (3rd - 4th century), made of ashlars and bricks, that are still visible on two thirds of the length of the walls and that were 3 m thick and 6-8 m high with 34-38 horseshoes-shaped low bastions at roughly regular intervals. They had rubble cores with courses of dressed ashlars intersected by courses of bricks and built on strong foundations; they are built on cubic bases surmounted by towers with windows on two storeys and semicircular external walls, the lower storey of which was filled with rubble to resist shock from battering rams. They were reinforced (11th - 13th century) in the medieval age by stones, merlons and windows. The external walls, 1650 m long and lower (7-8 m high) than the internal walls, have 19 round towers, that have many openings and are opened on their inner sides (so as to deny shelter to an enemy that might have seized them), three of which are barbicans and a fourth is a covered passage that linked the walls with the great barbican (where is now the church of St. Gimer, projected by Viollet-le-Duc), demolished in the 19th century. Outside (except on a corner, where are sufficient natural protections) there is a 4 m deep moat and there is a large space (the lists) between the two lines of walls. The walls were reconstructed in the final phase of building, in the late 13th century: two-thirds of them were rebuilt and modernized and four towers were enlarged, according to developments in military architecture. The main towers are: de la Vade, of St. Nazaire, that defend the cathedral, of the Bishop, that link the two lines of walls, the gate of the Aude, du Trésau and the gate Narbonnaise, that has a barbican and is imposing and very well equipped. The castle, butted up against the internal walls, has ten round towers in part with wooden roofs, a barbican, a dry moat, two courts, two living quarters with two squat towers, originally two-storeyed and surmounted by a crenellated parapet, and a defensive wall with three Roman bastions. The cathedral of St. Nazaire and Celse is a Romanesque masterpiece restored by Viollet-le-Duc, that added the two towers on the façade and the crenellated parapet, because he though that the church played a role in the defences of the town. It has a central six-bayed nave with an interrupted barrel vault and two narrow lateral naves with almost the same height and fully vaulted; the transverse arches spring alternatively from square columns surrounded by embedded columns and round pillars; the capitals have vegetal and geometric motifs. The Romanesque choir was replaced with a High Gothic structure, that is a transept with a six-sided apse; its exterior don’t have buttresses and the stability is assured by the interior vaulting. There are also chapels, sculptures, many tombs, relieves and stained glass. The roads and the squares have nice medieval houses; between them is also two wells, one of which is 40 m deep, and the remains of the church of St. Sernin.
The town is one of the most beautiful and spectacular places I have ever seen especially because of the impresiveness of the fortifications. It's absolutely worth to be visited (if you go there you must leave the car outside the centre) also because it's the most impressive fortified town in the world and justifies the inscription.
Photo: Carcassonne - View to the Cité from the Old Bridge of the Lower Town
| Date posted: February 2006|
|Genevi?ve Rousseau ():|
I've met my husband on the "rempart" of Carcassonne. So you will understand that for me this medieval city is THE place to see. It's beautiful and because of people like Viollet Leduc the city as kept it's essence (He was the one who started the renovation of this magnificient city, in the 19 th century). If you have the chance to go there in autumn or spring, it's very pleasant because you could meet one of the inhabitant instead of having to deal with merchants from Paris (who are renting stores all summer long and are there to sell stuff mostly made in china). Carcassonais and carcassonnaises are so nice and friendly. Don't forget to visit "le chateau comtal"(take a guided tour, it's worth the price). For me this place is magical and like we say here in Québec "Ça vaux le détour!" (It's worth the trip) Enjoy your visit!
| Date posted: October 2005|
|Katie Behan (USA):|
This is a wonderful place to visit. I was there for Bastille Day (July 14) and the fireworks were wonderful. The city is beautiful, but don't be surprised when you find it's a little small. I expected it to have towering turrets, but I wasn't thinking clearly I guess. Still, I loved it, and would definitely recommend it. Being there gives you a sense of the past. There's also a great tour. If you look at some pictures and like what you see, there are tons of information sites to find.
I visited Carcassonne during the summer of 2000 when I was on tour with a youth international
jazz band from the USA. We were only in the city for a few short hours, but I was enchanted. I
I recommend wandering the city yourself; I think that a tour would destroy the magic of the
city. The shops in the city do not at all take away from the historical aspect of the city.
The walls made me feel very small and insignificant. Carcassonne is truly a beautiful place; any
person visiting France should truly make an effort to visit!
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