|Canton||Carcassonne-1, 2 and 3|
|• Mayor (2020–2026)||Gérard Larrat (DVD)|
|65.08 km2 (25.13 sq mi)|
|• Density||710/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||81–250 m (266–820 ft) |
(avg. 111 m or 364 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Carcassonne ( // , also US: /-,- / , French: [kaʁkasɔn] ( listen ), locally [kaʁkasɔnə] ; Occitan : Carcassona [kaɾkaˈsunɔ] ; Latin : Carcaso) is a French fortified city in the department of Aude, in the region of Occitanie. A prefecture, it has a population of about 50,000.[ citation needed ]
Inhabited since the Neolithic, Carcassonne is located in the plain of the Aude between historic trade routes, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans, who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire. In the fifth century, it was taken over by the Visigoths, who founded the city. Within three centuries, it briefly came under the Islamic rule. Its strategic location led successive rulers to expand its fortifications until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.[ citation needed ]
Its citadel, known as the Cité de Carcassonne, is a medieval fortress dating back to the Gallo-Roman period and restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. [ citation needed ]Consequently, Carcassonne relies heavily on tourism but also counts manufacturing and winemaking as some of its other key economic sectors.
Carcassonne is located in the south of France about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Toulouse. Its strategic location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea has been known since the Neolithic era.
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 first signs of settlement in this 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 Volcae Tectosages fortified the oppidum .[ citation needed ]
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 and eventually made the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. 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.
Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508 the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725. King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759–60. Though he took most of the south of France, he was unable to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne.[ citation needed ]
A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled the city and its environs. It was often united with the county of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a county probably lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first count known by name is Bello of the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three centuries.
In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne. In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession with either the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus. In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new cathedral.
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 of the Papal Legate, abbot Arnaud Amalric, 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.
In 1240, Trencavel's son tried to reconquer his old domain but in vain. 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 under the 1258 Treaty of Corbeil. 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.
Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege.[ citation needed ] Temporary wooden platforms and walls would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes in the face of the wall, providing protection to defenders on the wall and allowing defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath, acting much like permanent machicolation.
The fortified city consists essentially of a concentric design of two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege engines. The castle itself possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. The walls consist of towers built over quite a long period.One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls, with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century and is still known as "The Inquisition Tower".
Carcassonne was demilitarised under Napoleon Bonaparte and the Restoration, and the fortified cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished. A decree to that effect that was made official in 1849 caused an uproar. The antiquary and mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, already at work restoring the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, was commissioned to renovate the place.
In 1853, work began with the west and southwest walls, followed by the towers of the porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the towers and the ramparts, where Viollet-le-Duc ordered the destruction of structures that had encroached against the walls, some of them of considerable age. Viollet-le-Duc left copious notes and drawings upon his death in 1879 when his pupil Paul Boeswillwald and, later, the architect Nodet continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne.
The restoration was strongly criticized during Viollet-le-Duc's lifetime. Fresh from work in the north of France, he made the error of using slate (when there was no slate to be quarried around) instead of terracotta tiles. The slate roofs were claimed to be more typical of northern France, as was the addition of the pointed tips to the roofs. Yet, overall, Viollet-le-Duc's achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.[ citation needed ]
Another bridge, Pont Marengo, crosses the Canal du Midi and provides access to the railway station. Lac de la Cavayère has been created as a recreational lake and is about five minutes from the city centre when using an automobile.
Further sights include:
Carcassonne has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa), though with noticeable hot-summer mediterranean climate influence (Köppen climate classification: Csa), a climate which is more typical of southern France, with moderately wet and mild winters coupled with summers averaging above 28 °C (82 °F) during daytime with low rainfall.
Carcasonne, along with the French Mediterranean coastline, can be subject to intense thunderstorms and torrential rains at late summers and early autumns. The Carcassonne region can be flooded in such events, the last of which happened on 14–15 October 2018.
|Climate data for Carcassonne (1981–2010 averages)|
|Record high °C (°F)||21.1|
|Average high °C (°F)||9.7|
|Average low °C (°F)||3.1|
|Record low °C (°F)||−12.5|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||69.3|
|Average precipitation days||9.4||7.9||8.0||9.5||7.5||5.0||4.1||5.5||5.4||7.8||8.7||8.8||87.5|
|Average snowy days||2.1||2.1||0.9||0.3||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.6||1.4||7.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||82||79||74||74||72||69||64||68||73||80||82||84||75.1|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||97.2||119.6||172.6||188.1||214.7||239.7||275.4||260.4||212.9||144.6||102.5||91.6||2,119.3|
|Source 1: Météo France|
|Source 2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy days, 1961–1990)|
|Source: EHESS and INSEE (1968–2017)|
The newer part (Ville Basse) of the city on the other side of the Aude river (which dates back to the Middle Ages, after the crusades) manufactures shoes, rubber and textiles. It is also the center of a major AOC winegrowing region. A major part of its income comes from the tourism connected to the fortifications (Cité) and from boats cruising on the Canal du Midi. Carcassonne is also home to the MKE Performing Arts Academy. Carcassonne receives about three million visitors annually.
In the late 1990s, Carcassonne airport started taking budget flights to and from European airports and by 2009 had regular flight connections with Porto, Bournemouth, Cork, Dublin, Frankfurt-Hahn, London-Stansted, Liverpool,East Midlands, Glasgow-Prestwick and Charleroi.
The Gare de Carcassonne railway station offers direct connections to Toulouse, Narbonne, Perpignan, Paris, Marseille and several regional destinations. The A61 motorway connects Carcassonne with Toulouse and Narbonne.
French is spoken. Historically, the language spoken in Carcassonne and throughout Languedoc-Roussillon was not French but Occitan.
In July 2021, Carcassonne was the finish city for stage 13, and the starting point of stage 14, of the 2021 Tour de France. It was at the finish in Carcassonne that Mark Cavendish tied the record for most Tour de France stage wins (34) held by Eddy Merckx. Carcassonne was the finish city for stage 15, and the starting point of stage 16, of the 2018 Tour de France. Previously it was the starting point for stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France, the starting point for a stage in the 2004 Tour de France, and a stage finish in the 2006 Tour de France.
As in the rest of the southwest of France, rugby union is popular in Carcassonne. The city is represented by Union Sportive Carcassonnaise, known locally simply as USC. The club has a proud history, having played in the French Championship Final in 1925, and currently competes in Pro D2, the second tier of French rugby.
Rugby league is also played, by the AS Carcassonne club. They are involved in the Elite One Championship. Puig Aubert is the most notable rugby league player to come from the Carcassonne club. There is a bronze statue of him outside the Stade Albert Domec at which the city's teams in both codes play.
In May 2018, as the project "Concentric, eccentric"by French-Swiss artist Felice Varini, large yellow concentric circles were mounted on the monument as part of the 7th edition of "IN SITU, Heritage and contemporary art", a summer event in the Occitanie / Pyrenees-Mediterranean region focusing on the relationship between modern art and architectural heritage. This monumental work is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Carcassonne's inscription on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Exceptional in its size and its visibility and use of architectural space, the exhibit extends on the western front of the fortifications of the city. The work can be fully perceived only in front of the Porte d'Aude at the pedestrian route from the Bastide. The circles of yellow colour consist of thin, painted aluminium sheets, spread like waves of time and space, fragmenting and recomposing the geometry of the circles on the towers and curtain walls of the fortifications. The work will be visible from May to September 2018 only.
Carcassonne is twinned with:
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect and author who restored many prominent medieval landmarks in France, including those which had been damaged or abandoned during the French Revolution. His major restoration projects included Notre-Dame de Paris, the Basilica of Saint Denis, Mont Saint-Michel, Sainte-Chapelle, and the medieval walls of the city of Carcassonne, and he planned much of the physical construction of the Statue of Liberty. His later writings on the relationship between form and function in architecture had a notable influence on a new generation of architects, including Victor Horta, Hector Guimard, Antoni Gaudí, Hendrik Petrus Berlage, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Aude is a department in Southern France, located in the Occitanie region and named after the river Aude. The departmental council also calls it "Cathar Country" after a group of religious dissidents active in the 12th century.
Languedoc is a former province of France. Its territory is now contained in the modern-day region of Occitanie in the south of France. Its capital city was Toulouse. It had an area of approximately 42,700 square kilometers.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a former administrative region of France. On 1 January 2016, it joined with the region of Midi-Pyrénées to become Occitanie. It comprised five departments, and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side. It was the southernmost region of mainland France.
The Aude is a river of southern France that is 224 kilometres (139 mi) long. Its source is in the Pyrenees mountains then runs to Carcassonne and finally reaches the Mediterranean Sea near Narbonne. The river is navigable by raft or canoe for nearly all of its length. It is registered as essential to the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
Midi-Pyrénées is a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region Occitanie. It was the largest region of Metropolitan France by area, larger than the Netherlands or Denmark.
Béziers is a subprefecture of the Hérault department in the Occitanie region of Southern France. In 2017, the commune had a population of 77,177. Béziers hosts the famous Feria de Béziers, centred on bullfighting, every August. A million visitors are attracted to the five-day event.
Castres is the sole subprefecture of the Tarn department in the Occitanie region in Southern France. It lies in the former province of Languedoc, although not in the former region of Languedoc-Roussillon. In 2018, the commune had a population of 41,795.
Peyrepertuse is a ruined fortress and one of the so-called Cathar castles located high in the French Pyrénées in the commune of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, in the Aude département, and has been associated with the Counts of Narbonne and Barcelona. It was the former seigneury of the Peyrepertusès which means "pierced stone."
Quillan is a commune in the Aude department in southern France. On 1 January 2016, the former commune of Brenac was merged into Quillan.
Felice Varini is a Paris-based, Swiss artist who was nominated for the 2000/2001 Marcel Duchamp Prize. Mostly known for his geometric perspective-localized paintings in rooms and other spaces, using projector-stencil techniques, according to mathematics professor and art critic Joël Koskas, "A work of Varini is an anti-Mona Lisa." Felice paints on architectural and urban spaces, such as buildings, walls and streets. The paintings are characterized by one vantage point from which the viewer can see the complete painting, while from other view points the viewer will see 'broken' fragmented shapes. Varini argues that the work exists as a whole - with its complete shape as well as the fragments. "My concern," he says "is what happens outside the vantage point of view."
The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus is a Roman Catholic minor basilica located in the citadel of Carcassonne, France. It is a national monument, and is in the Gothic-Romanesque architectural tradition.
Cathar castles are a group of medieval castles located in the Languedoc region. Some had a Cathar connection in that they offered refuge to dispossessed Cathars in the thirteenth century. Many of these sites were replaced by new castles built by the victorious French Crusaders and the term Cathar castle is also applied to these fortifications despite their having no connection with Cathars. The fate of many Cathar castles, at least for the early part of the Crusade, is outlined in the contemporary Occitan "Chanson de la Croisade", translated into English as the "Song of the Cathar Wars ".
Aigues-Vives is a commune in the Aude department in the Occitanie region of southern France.
Alairac is a commune in the Aude department in the Occitanie region of southern France.
The Château de Durfort is a ruined castle in the commune of Vignevieille in the Aude département of France. It is 27 km east of Limoux and 3 km north of the Château de Termes.
The Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval citadel located in the French city of Carcassonne, in the Aude department, Occitanie region. It is situated on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, in the southeast part of the city proper.
Occitanie, Occitany or Occitania, is the southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France excluding Corsica, created on 1 January 2016 from the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The Council of State approved Occitanie as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, coming into effect on 30 September 2016.
Southern French Gothic is a specific and militant style of Gothic architecture developed in the South of France, especially in the Toulouse region. It arose in the early 13th century following the victory of the Catholic church over the Cathars, as the church sought to re-establish its authority in the region. As a result, church buildings typically present features drawn from military architecture. Taking into account the Cathars' criticism of the Catholic Church, Southern French Gothic is simpler and less ornate than northern French Gothic, and further differs in that the construction material is typically brick rather than stone. Over time, the style came to influence secular buildings as well as churches and spread beyond the area where Catharism had flourished.
Jean-Claude Pertuzé was a French comic book artist, illustrator, and writer.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Carcassonne .|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carcassonne .|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article " Carcassonne ".|