Architecture of the walled city of Carcassonne

One hingering in the lists of the city (space between 2 walls of fortification), one can easily realize that the city had "suffered" from sudden consecutive final improvements in its construction. This is explained by the fact that in the Middle Age, the priority for all the people was to conqueer new places. Carcassonne, like many other cities, was the gate opened to invasions. Its geographical location made a strategic place of it.

The Gallo-Roman era

End of XIth to XIIIth century

The Visigothic era

XIIIth toXIV th century

VIth to XIth century

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The Gallo-Roman era:

The Gallo-Roman influence is definitely visible. The first stoned walls of Carcassonne date back from this period. They are easily recognizable and respect the rules common to all the Roman fortifications.

Tour Gallo-romaine



D'après Viollet Le Duc


1st characteristic : the use of the round or square shape towers in the fixed enceinte of the Romans was general, because, as was saying Végèce : " the people considered that the enceinte of a place couldn't be on a same continuous line, because of the rams which would easily beat in breach; but by using towers located in the rampart close enough to one other, their walls had saillant and coming in angles".


2nd characteristic: Walls were constituted of two facings of small cubic apparatus, with alternated red brick bases.


mur gallo-romain

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The wisigothic era (5th century):

Visigoths were not considered as manufacturers. They would have rebuilt walls and towers, which had been destroyed after the battles, copying the Gallo-Roman art and style. For this reason, we cannot differenciate the Gallo-Roman constructions from the Visigothic ones. Thereby, the name of the Visigothic towers above explained is often given to Gallo-Roman constructions.


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VIth to XIth century:

The Francs brought in the Germanic tradition in which wood was very much used. One can imagine a wood palisade as a defense of the enceinte, but no trace make it possible to confirm such explanation.

The defensive system of the Roman fortification didn't changes a lot. The siege of the fortified towers lasted several days, attackers often gave up, plundering the surrounding countryside. Defenders resisted until victory. Little by little, the means of attacks started to improve and the first machines of wars appeared. Until the XIIth century, the cities were only defended by enceintes flanked by towers.

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End of XIth to XIIIth century:

Important construction works were undertaken on several points of which the "Count's Castle". Walking in the inner enclosure, one can easily recognize parts of the masonries dating back to this period. Their caracteristics are as fallow :

- facing of yellowish sandstone
0.15 m to 0.25 m height
0.20 m to 0.30 m width
-constructed rough

Château contal 

In the XIIth century, the visigothic towers were consolidated and raised. Indeed, they were ruined through sap and mine during the different battles, especially when the Moors drove out the visigoths. This consolidations work was undertaken, certainly late, but precipitated by the crusade against the Albigensians wich started in 1209.



Simon de Montfort seized the city and it became part of the royal domain (Louis VIII).

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XIIIth to XIVth century:


Saint-Louis was attaching a great importance to Carcassonne, which was covering a large place of the domain, situated above all, in front of the Aragon.Saint Louis decided to make an untakable fortress of it, as he was claiming not to fear the possible consequences of a siege which would have put it in the hands of a dynamic ennemy.

Saint Louis started new construction works. The Barbican of the Castle (of which nothing remains today) and the outer wall of the city, except the approaching ramp.

One can recognize, from this period the use of stones with embossing.

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