Learn About Visiting Carcassonne in France

The largest fortified city in Europe is Carcassonne, which is located on the left bank of the River Aude and has 52 towers and 3 kilometers of ramparts. One of the most popular tourist destinations in France is the famous and impressive medieval Aude town, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and by the architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century was beautifully restored. 

Those who enjoy history and historic structures will enjoy discovering Carcassonne’s architectural gems. Magnificent Gallo-Roman and medieval fortifications that encircle the town, the Narbonnaise Gate, which is flanked by two tall, overhanging towers, the Counts’ Castle, built in the Trencavel dynasty in the 12th century and now home to a museum of masonry, the Saint-Nazaire Basilica with its Gothic statues and magnificent 13th and 14th-century stained-glass windows, and the Promenade des Lices. While taking a stroll through the city, don’t miss the charming Marcou square with its array of shaded café terraces and the picturesque streets lined with gift and souvenir shops.

How to Reach Carcassonne?

The Aéroport Sud de France Carcassonne is the airport that serves Carcassonne, but if you are flying there from the United States, plan on having a layover in Paris or another part of Europe. From the UK, Ryanair offers inexpensive flights to Carcassonne. After your flight lands, a shuttle service to the city center departs the airport 25 minutes later. You can use the entire city’s transportation network for one hour for the cost of 5 euros. Additionally, you can read more advice for solo travelers here.

Best Time to Visit Carcassonne

Choose a season according to your preferences because there isn’t a bad time to visit because the climate is so pleasant all year long. In addition, we have a winter trip guide if you want to travel during the winter q. Many of the city’s attractions are closed or only open for a short time during the winter. Ideal seasons can be spring and fall. Most events take place during the summer, but Carcassonne will also be crowded with visitors at that time of year.

History

The earliest evidence of human habitation in this area dates to around 3500 BC, but it wasn’t until the sixth century BC that the hill site of Carsac—a Celtic name that has survived at other sites in the south—became a significant trading hub. The oppidum was strengthened by the Volcae Tectosages. The folk etymology—remembered in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme.—involves a châtelaine named Lady Carcas, a trick that ended a siege, and the joyful ringing of bells known as Carcas Sona. A column near the Narbonne Gate features a contemporary creation of Carcas. The name might be viewed as an enhancement of Carcas.

When the Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC, they gave it the name Colonia of Julia Carsaco, which was later changed to Carcassum through the metathesis, or consonant swapping, process. The Gallo-Roman period is when the lower courses of the northern ramparts were built in their entirety. The Visigothic king Theodoric II had controlled Carcassonne since 453 when the Romans officially handed over Septimania to him in 462. At Carcassonne, a frontier outpost on the Northern Marches, where they still have remnants, he added more fortifications.

The county of Carcassonne, a medieval fiefdom, oversaw the city and its surroundings. It frequently joined forces with the county of Razès. Although local Visigoths are likely responsible for Carcassonne’s founding as a county, Bello, a count during the reign of Charlemagne, is the first count to be identified by name. In Septimania and Catalonia, Bello established the Bellonid dynasty, which would rule over several nobles for three centuries.

Through his marriage to Ermengard, the sister of the previous count of Carcassonne, Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, acquired ownership of Carcassonne in 1067. The counts of Toulouse or Barcelona were successive allies of the Trencavel family in the succeeding centuries. Along with the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, they constructed the Château Comtal. Pope Urban II blessed the new cathedral’s cornerstones in 1096.

The border province of Roussillon was given to France by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which diminished Carcassonne’s military importance. After losing its fortifications, the city shifted its economic focus to the woolen textile sector, for which a source cited by Fernand Braudel in 1723 identified it as Languedoc’s manufacturing hub. It continued to be so up until the collapse of the Ottoman market at the end of the eighteenth century, after which it became a small rural town.

Best Destinations in Carcassonne

Francia, Tower, Middle Age

The Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne – On the hill where Carcassonne now stands, a fortified settlement has existed since the pre-Roman era. With its impressive defenses enclosing the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets, and its beautiful Gothic cathedral, it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town in its current form. Due to the extensive restoration work carried out by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the pioneers of the modern science of conservation, Carcassonne is also of exceptional significance.

Comtal de Carcassonne Château – This is a medieval castle located inside Carcassonne, the biggest city in Europe with still-standing city walls. The modern city of Carcassonne, which is also the prefecture of the Aude department in the former province of Languedoc, contains the Medieval Cité.

The Château Comtal has a strong case for being referred to as a “Cathar Castle”, even though the exterior curtain wall of the cité is French and the entire site has undergone extensive restoration. After arriving in 1209, the Catholic Crusader army attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel’s castrum in Bèziers before moving on to his main stronghold in Carcassonne.

The Cathar Castles – The Cathar Castles are a collection of old castles in the Languedoc region. Some of them had ties to the Cathars because they provided shelter to displaced Cathars in the thirteenth century. The term Cathar castle is also used to refer to these fortifications even though they had no connection to the Cathars. Many of these locations were replaced by new castles constructed by the victorious French Crusaders. The contemporary Occitan “Chanson de la Croisade” describes what happened to many Cathar castles, at least during the early stages of the Crusade.