Carcassonne (Julia Carcaso/Carcasum)

Located in the South of France, Carcassonne is a fortified walled city. with ties to the Romans. Although not always called Carcassonne the site has been occupied and fortified since before the Roman period. The earliest known occupation of the site occurring around the 6th century BC.  Carcassonne is situated on top of a hill overlooking a valley as well as being in close proximity to the routes that linked the Atlantic with the the Mediterranean. Romans were prevalent in the area around 100BC and called it the Julia Carcaso colony  and later named it Carcasum.  In 462 the Romans gave the land to the Visigoths.

Fortifications

The Castle walls are a conglomeration of different cultures and time periods. According to UNESCO in the 3rd and 4th centuries a 1,200 meter long wall was constructed. The fortifications were made up of two lines of walls and a castle which was also surrounded by fortifications. The walls are of Roman design, the defense of the wall was strengthened by semi-circular bastions or towers placed systematically along the wall.

The walls bastions had Terracotta shingled roofs and the walls were made of bricks. As time went on occupiers of the fort added their touch to the cities walls building and adding their own personal touches. The Roman walls were built upon on in the 12th century  taking on their medieval appearance.

Example of a Roman Bastion along the walls. Photo taken by Allison Fortier 2005

Example of a Roman Bastion along the walls.
Photo taken by Allison Fortier 2005

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What you’ll see today:

Today Carcasonne is an active tourist destination and is actually comprised of two cities, the fortified walled area called La Cité de Carcassonne and the lower city called the Ville Basse. The fortress is considered a UNESCO world heritage site. At night the walls of the castle are lit and it looks as if the stones glow from within.  Another interesting and beautiful place to explore it the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse.  It is a Gothic cathedral with beautiful stained glass windows.

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Stained Glass inside of Basilica, picture taken by Allison Fortier 2005

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Some fun Facts:

Carcassonne castle has been used in many movies, most notably Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

This website allows you to take a virtual tour of the city and is quite neat!

http://www.carcassonne.culture.fr/

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Sources

  1. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/345
  2. http://www.creme-de-languedoc.com/Languedoc/city-guides/carcassonne.php#.UYGbKIIvr4g
  3. http://www.carcassonne.culture.fr/

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