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Carcassonne

Posted by Freddy Rueda on 17/03/2021
0

General Information

Population: 50000
Altitude : 100
Shops and amenities: The city is well served with all shops and services including an international airport
Postcode : 11000

Sites of Interest

The town’s area is about 65 km2 (25 sq mi), which is significantly larger than the numerous small towns in the department of Aude. The rivers Aude, Fresquel and the Canal du Midi flow through the town.
The Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval citadel located in the French city of Carcassonne. It is located on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, in the south-east part of the city proper.

  • The fortified Cité
  • Pont Marengo
  • The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus
  • The Carcassonne Cathedral
  • Church of St. Vincent


Activities and Economy

Tourism – Carcassonne receives about three million visitors annually.
Festival de Carcassonne – arts and music festival in July where many events are free and take place at locations around the city

History

There are so many World heritage sites in Occitanie that it’s easy to become blasé about them. However, few stand out like La Cité de Carcassonne. Looming over the modern city the restored walled citadel dominates the views, whether from the A9 passing by, or walking through the ‘old town and it’s regular layout and open ‘places’.

The first signs of settlement in the Carcassonne region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC.

The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Lady Carcas, a ruse ending a siege, and the joyous ringing of bells (“Carcas sona”) – though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention. The name can be derived as an augmentative of the name Carcas.

Carcassonne became strategically identified when the Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC. In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453. He built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches – traces of them still stand.

Carcassonne became famous for its role in the Albigensian Crusades when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army forced its citizens to surrender. Viscount Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city’s surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. The people of Carcassonne were allowed to leave – in effect, expelled from their city with nothing more than the shirt on their backs. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount and added to the fortifications.

The city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon. King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years’ War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town.

In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne’s military significance was reduced. Its fortifications were abandoned and the city became mainly an economic center that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it “the manufacturing center of Languedoc”. It remained so until the Ottoman market collapsed at the end of the eighteenth century, thereafter reverting to a country town.

 

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