Walled City

The walled city (La Cite) of Carcassonne was built on the site of a former Roman fortress.  The city is protected by two heavily fortified walls and has no less than 52 towers and barbicans. In medieval times Simon de Montfort led crusades against the Albigensians (Cathars) whom the Catholic Church had branded as heretics due to their beliefs.

At that time that city and its inhabitants were under the protection of Raymond Trencavel, “Vicomte de Carcassonne”. The town surrounding the city was destroyed during these crusades and King Louis IV authorised the building of the Bastide on the left bank of the river Aude as a replacement.

When the Roussillon region became part of France in 1659 the city’s strategic importance as a border fortress declined, the inhabitants moved to the lower town and the city fell into disrepair. In 1844 the architect Viollet-le-Duc was put in charge of the restoration of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse basilica and subsequently he undertook a study of all the city fortifications. This study was used as a basis for the restoration of the city and its fortifications.

The city then slightly came back to life: “I created, wrote Viollet-le-Duc, a construction with workers mostly chosen among the locals… Here, I have builders, stone-cutters, blacksmiths, carpenters, sculptors, all men are used to difficult tasks, all work near their homes, all are under my guidance.” Some of the Carcassonne workers, such as the sculptor Perrin or the architect Cals, were truly talented. From 1855 onwards, the restoration of the fortifications began. In 1879, at the death of Viollet-le-Duc, they were far from finished. His pupil, Boeswillwald, then the architect Nodet would complete the masters enterprise.*

In the past the work was often criticised as a romantic rather than entirely accurate restoration, although in recent times the work is looked on much more favourably and is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

*Excerpt from Carcassonne History and Architecture by Jean-Pierre PANOUILLE

8 Comments CherryPie on Jun 23rd 2012

8 Responses to “Architecture 100 :: 21 – Carcassonne”

  1. Astrid says:

    I stayed at a camping at Canet-en-Roussilon. It was then, that we visited Carcassonne too, I have to admit that that was almost 30 years ago. You took some fabulous ‘night’ pictures of the castle. You had quite a vacation. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

  2. I have to ask do you every find American history or culture interesting? We’re such a new country compare to the most of world.
    There sure no building like that around here.
    But as for fashion “comfort” is my key word. Thanks for stopping in and the coffee is always on.

    • CherryPie says:

      I haven’t visited America (yet) so I don’t know how I would feel about the architecture and culture. I do know I would enjoy the history even though it is much newer than that in Europe.

  3. Is that their Sunken Garden at the front?
    It reminded me of Edinburgh Castle.

    • CherryPie says:

      It is a walled city in the same way so I see what you mean. Carcassonne seems a little bit bigger or maybe it is just that it is visible from further away…

  4. Carola Bartz says:

    How beautiful! Many years ago I visited Carcassone, and I loved its unique location and the atmosphere within the city walls. I’d love to see it again.