Historic Center of Avignon (1995)

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In the 14th century, this city in the South of France was the seat of the papacy. The Palais des Papes, an austere-looking fortress lavishly decorated by Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti, dominates the city, the surrounding ramparts and the remains of a 12th-century bridge over the Rhone. 

Beneath this outstanding example of Gothic architecture, the Petit Palais and the Romanesque Cathedral of Notre-Dame-des-Doms complete an exceptional group of monuments that testify to the leading role played by Avignon in 14th-century Christian Europe. 

France 1938. Avignon

Avignon, city in southern France, capital of Vaucluse Department, on the Rhône River. It is a wine-trade and manufacturing center, producing processed food, leather, textiles, soaps, and chemicals. The University Center of Avignon (1973) is here.

Places of interest within the city include a huge 14th-century palace that once served as a residence and fortress of the popes. The beautiful Gothic Basilica of Saint Peter (14th century) and the Cathedral of Notre Dame des Doms (12th century) are nearby, and just north of the palace, on rocky heights overlooking the Rhône River, are several public gardens. Only a fragment of the bridge of Saint Bénézet (12th century), to which the famous French song “Sur le Pont d'Avignon” refers, remains. However, the city still retains its massive 14th-century ramparts, which were only slightly damaged during World War II (1939-1945). 

France 2001. Jean Vilar.

In summer, the month-long Festival d'Avignon includes classical and contemporary theater productions. The Festival d'Avignon was established in 1947 by the French theatre director, Jean Vilar, who, in 1951 became the head of Théâtre National Populaire, where his goal was to attract an audience of at least 2.500 every night at very affordable prices. 

Jean Vilar was a French theatre director, who founded his own theatre company in September 1943 "The Company of Seven", where he also directed his first show "Dance of Death" by the Swedish author, August Strincberg. 

From 1309 to 1377, the period often referred to as the Babylonian Captivity of the popes, Avignon served as the seat of the papal court, and from 1378 to 1408 the city was the residence of several of the antipopes. In 1475 it was made an archiepiscopal see, and it subsequently became a flourishing commercial center. During this period, even though Avignon was part of the Papal States and was nominally ruled by legates, the citizens were in reality free to govern themselves. The papacy lost the city, however, during the French Revolution, when Avignon was incorporated by plebiscite into France in 1791. Population (1999) 85,935. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in France (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section France for further information on the individual properties.  

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Revised 09 sep 2007  
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