Carcassonne, France. The Old City

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We got up early and went for breakfast. It was going to be a full day of walking and I didn't want to get tired too soon so we called a taxi to take us to the old town.

Carcassonne, is famous for being the best surviving example of a medieval military city in Europe. The city was next on the hit list for the Christian Crusaders after the sacking of Beziers. 

Here is a synopsis:
After resisting and putting up a good fight against the Crusaders, the Lord of the city, Vicount Trenclavel surrendered, was locked up and died a couple of years later in his own prison. Once Carcassonne had surrendered, rather than risk another PR faux pas like what happened in Beziers, the Catholic Crusaders this time let everyone go. The citizens were only allowed to take with them the clothes on their backs and nothing else.

The city and entire region eventually became a part of France and around the mid-1600's went into decline as it was a relatively peaceful time and business moved to the new town down below the hill.

In the mid-1800's the architect Mssr.Viollet-le-Duc who had overseen the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was given the task of restoring the old walled city of Carcassonne. The major features of the old city are the Basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse and the Trenclavel Castle.

In 1997 the old city was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Today, Carcassonne is a vibrant tourist spot and the old city, castle and cathedral are a wonderful place to visit for families and anyone interested in the medieval period and architecture. Prices are typically a bit higher here, as you would expect at any tourist trap. Food and service quality also suffers, but Carcassonne is worth the trip. Be prepared for lots of kids dressed as Knights with beeping swords and plastic armour. We were here in the off season and it was really quite busy.

Visit these sites for more information on Carcassonne:


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