History of the walled city
of Carcassonne



The origins / Roman and invasions

Middle age / The restoration

Contemporary era



History | Pictures | Guided visit | Architecture | The church | Let's attack the city



The origins.

A long time ago people understood that this table - land area on the valley of the ATAX = AUDE was located in a strategic place. Just between the black mountain and the Pyrénées slopes, CARCASSONNE is situated on a communication way leading from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea.

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The origins / Roman and invasions / Middle age / The restoration / Contemporary era



Roman and invasions era.


  • In 122 before J.C., the Romans settled victorious in Carcassonne and controlled the Narbonnais area by themselves.

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The origins / Roman and invasions / Middle age / The restoration / Contemporary era



The middle age.

  • Until the XITh century we could not find traces of new constructions in the city but from the end of this century important works at several points were undertaken.
      During this period settled a new religion: CATHARISM, which had a lot of followers.

      Carcassonne grew rich as we estimate at nearly 50% of taxes (on their products) that were taken on the travelling merchants.

    • 1130: Construction of the Chateau Comtal = castle, restoration of the Gallo-Roman walls.
    • 1209 (August 1st): The Albigiensan crusades siege.2 weeks later, Raymond Roger Trencavel was defeated by the famous Simon de Monfort and died from dysentery in prison.
    • 1240: the son of Trencavel attempted to win back the city of Carcassonne but failed after a siege of 24 days. The inhabitants of the Saint - Vincent borough were punished because of their support to trencavel II. They finally were burnt for betrayal and the old borough was destroyed.
    • 1248: Carcassonne, thus formed part of the royal field. Saint Louis, who did not want war any longer with long and lasting sieges made the city fortified, building a second wall. Carcassonne such as we know it today, had just been born. Saint - Louis allowed the inhabitants who were back, to build a city apart from the city: there will be 2 parishes: Saint - Vincent and Saint - Michael in remembering the 2 boroughs.
    New constructions work will be started: Philippe III known as le Hardi (the Bold) at the time of war with the King of Aragon, continued works with great activity.
    - the Narbonnaise Gate
    - the Tower of the Trésau
    - the Saint-Nazaire Gate and all the part of the surrounding enclosure
    - repair of several Gallo-Roman Towers
    - the Barbican of the castle
    All these constructions are easily recognizable because of the use of stones with embossing.

    From this time, the city was powerful and considered to be untakable. Carcassonne was peaceful until 1355 when the army of the Black Prince put the sack and wiped out the unfortified lower town.

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    The origins / Roman and invasions / Middle age / The restoration / Contemporary era



    The restoration

    During the XVIIIth century and, as all the monuments of the middle-ages, the Walled City of Carcassonne was abandoned.

    Stone coming from crenellations were used to build here and there small barracks taking support on the 2 walls.

    Rue des lices hautes Rue des lices hautes

    The roofs of the towers were ruined. Some of these towers were used as garage, cellars or workshops.

    La cité en 1853

    Here is the project of restoration of Viollet-le-Duc :

    projet de restauration

    The worst was a decree of 1850 wich condemned the whole of the fortifications to demolition.

    Jean-Pierre Cros-Meyrevieille (an historian and archeologist) saved the city of such destruction. Thanks to him, to Mérimée and especially to the architect Viollet Le Duc, the walled city of Carcassonne passed under the control of "the administration of the arts". Then, started the restoration of the city, wich had already been undertaken in 1844 with the Church of Saint-Nazaire.

    Porte Narbonnaise et tour du trésau Après la restauration!

    In 1853 was undertaken the restoration of the fortifications.
    Crenels were rebuilt, roofs remade and vaults consolidated. Almost 15 % of the city has been repaired.

    Even though this restoration work removes the authenticity of the monument, the most energetic action was led by Viollet Le Duc, whose work was pursued further still after his death in 1879 by one of his student Boeswillwald and later by the architecht Nodet.

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    The origins / Roman and invasions / Middle age / The restoration / Contemporary era



    Contemporary era.

    • 1997 (december): The city was registered by UNESCO with the World Inheritance of Humanity.


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    The origins / Roman and invasions / Middle age / The restoration / Contemporary era