The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne (1997)
France

Back to index

Since the pre-Roman period, a fortified settlement has existed on the hill where Carcassonne now stands. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defences encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral. Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation. 

France 2000. The fortified city of Carcassonne.

Carcassonne is a city in southern France, and the capital of the Aude Department, on the Aude River and the Canal du Midi. It is divided into two sections, the Ville Basse and the medieval walled community known as the Cité. 

The business of Carcassonne is concentrated in the Ville Basse, which has clothing factories and is an important centre of trade in wine, grain, and fruit produced in the surrounding region. 

  • United Nations (Vienna) 2006. Carcassonne. 

United Nations (Vienna) 2006. Carcassonne.

The Ville Basse also contains the Cathedral of St. Michael and the Church of St. Vincent (both 13th century).  The Cité is the finest example of a fortified medieval town in Europe and is a popular tourist attraction.  

France 1938. The Ramparts of the City of Carcassonne.

Set on top of a hill on the left bank of the Aude, the Cité includes ancient ramparts and towers, some parts dating from the 5th century during the time of the Visigoths, and others from the 11th to the 13th century. 

In addition, a 12th-century castle and the Romanesque and Gothic Church of St. Nazaire (11th-14th century) are located in the Cité. 

  • France 1938.  The ramparts of the Cite de Carcassonne. 

France 2005. UNESCO-cover from Carcassonne. The cachet shows an image of the Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne. The cover is franked with the modern Carcassonne-issue, and further with a surcharge of the 1938-issue.

The Cité was the site of a Roman town, which fell to the Visigoths in the 5th century. In the 8th century it came under Frankish rule. During the 13th-century crusade against the Albigenses, a religious sect holding a dualist Manichaean view of good and evil, Carcassonne was captured and its inhabitants massacred by the Anglo-Normans under Simon de Montfort, and became a possession of the French crown in 1247. It was at this time that the French king Louis IX founded the new town across the Aude. Restoration of the Cité was begun in the 19th century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc. 

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.  

Back to index


Revised 09 sep 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved