The medieval town of Carcassonne is a popular gem. It is located along the Canal du Midi and consists actually of two cities, La Cité and Ville Basse. Discover Carcassonne’s old town Cité de Carcassonne, the upper city, with its old castle, Chateau Comtal from the 1100s and its double ring wall. Here you can also enjoy Carcassonne’s sweeping views.
Cité de Carcassonne is a real time capsule – just step in and let yourself be entranced. Wander aimlessly in the winding alleyways and eat Cassoulet on some outdoor dining. Carcassonne is really worth a visit, but you should be prepared for it being quite crowded in the summertime.
Discover Carcassonne on foot. Hike along the river Aude, or along the Canal du Midi. Walk across the old bridge Le Pont Vieux to the lower town of Bastide Saint-Louis, or Ville Basse as it is also called. The bridge was the only link between the two cities. In the lower part you will find beautiful squares, churches and market halls.
Carcassonne was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.
Carcassonne has a solid history. The city has undergone many sieges and power structures that left its mark on the city. There are remnants of settlements as far back as 3500 BC. In the 500s BC, Carcassonne became an important city in the Roman Empire’s administration and later also a significant commercial city. As a result, the inner ring wall was built in the 200-300s. Some parts of this era are still there today. A war time followed and Carcassonne suffered a number of attacks and sieges.
The city has also been characterized by religious tensions. Pope Innocent III declared 1209 holy war against the city’s inhabitants. For various reasons he felt that they were heretics and they had to flee from Carcassonne. Those who failed to get out of the city were hanged or burned. More about this inquisition can be found at the horrifying Musee de L’Inquisition.
In the middle of the 13th century, the French crown took over the city. The defense was strengthened and the outer ring wall was built. In total, there are 53 towers in both walls. The beautiful Gothic Narbonnaise Gate is being built during this time. Partly to show the city’s high status, but it would also serve as a reservoir in the event of a siege.
There are also a number of interesting churches in the area. In the Cité de Carcassonne there is the Basilica of Nazareth, which has been mentioned as early as 925. Subsequently, it has been rebuilt on several occasions.
In Ville Basse there is St. Michel Cathedral and St. Vincent Church, both built on the orders of Louis IX. It was he who founded this lower town.