Panorama of the Cité de Carcassonne|
Panorama of the Cité de Carcassonne
Carcassonne became famous in 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. Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's surrender, and died in mysterious circumstances three months later in his own dungeon. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount. He 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 Kingdom of Aragon under the Treaty of Corbeil (1258). 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. Fortifications were abandoned, and the city became mainly an economic centre that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it "the manufacturing centre 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. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself. It provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath.
The fortified city
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The fortified city itself 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 struck off the roster of official fortifications under Napoleon 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 Saint-Nazaire, was commissioned to renovate the place.
In 1853, works began with the west and southwest walling, 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 on 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 slates and restoring the roofs as point-free environment. Yet, overall, Viollet-le-Duc's achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.
The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named 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.
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.
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Further sights include:
EconomyAude river (which dates back from the Middle Ages, created after the crusade) manufactures shoes, rubber and textiles. It is also the centre of a major AOC wine-growing region. A major part of its income, however, comes from the tourism connected to the fortifications (Cité) and from boat 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.
Historically, the language spoken in Carcassonne and throughout Languedoc-Roussillon was not French but Occitan.
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 have a proud history, having played in the French Championship Final in 1925, and currently compete 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.
- The French poet Gustave Nadaud made Carcassonne famous as a city a man dreamed of seeing but could not see before he died. His poem inspired many others and was translated into English several times. Georges Brassens has sung a musical version of the poem. Lord Dunsany wrote a short story "Carcassonne" (in A Dreamer's Tales) as did William Faulkner.
- On 6 March 2000 France issued a stamp commemorating the fortress of Carcassonne.
- The history of Carcassonne is re-told in the novels Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel by Kate Mosse.
- A board game and a video game version of it are named after this town.
- Portions of the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were shot in and around Carcassonne.
- A 1993 album by Stephan Eicher was named Carcassonne.
- In the one-man show Sea Wall, starring Andrew Scott, Carcassonne is mentioned frequently as a setting.
- Paul Lacombe, composer, 1837
- Théophile Barrau, sculptor, 1848
- Paul Sabatier, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1854
- Gilbert Benausse, rugby league footballer, 1932
- Michael Martchenko, illustrator, 1942
- Maurice Sarrail, General of Division during the First World War, 1856
- David Ferriol, rugby league player, 1979
- Olivia Ruiz, pop singer, 1980
- Fabrice Estebanez, rugby union player, 1981
Twin towns – sister cities
Carcassonne is twinned with:
- "Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne". UNESCO. Accessed 13 February 2014.
- Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce 1982, vol. II of Civilization and Capitalism, Brian Anderson.
- Faroqhi, Suraiya N. (2006). "Introduction". <span />In Suraiya N. Faroqhi, ed., The Cambridge History of Turkey, Volume 3: The Later Ottoman Empire, 1603–1839, pp. 3–17<span />. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62095-6. See p. 4.
- midi-france.info. "Historic Cities: Caracassonne". midi-france.info.
- Liverpool - Carcassonne
- Clark, Francis E. (1922). Memories of Many Men in Many Lands. The Plimpton Press. p. 504. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- Musée de La Poste
- La Dépêche Du Midi. "Carcassonne se trouve une jumelle" (in français). Retrieved 26 June 2012.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carcassonne.|
- Virtual tour of the fortified walls of the city of Carcasonne
- Official website of the city of Carcassonne Invalid language code. / Invalid language code. / Invalid language code. / Invalid language code. / Invalid language code.
- Cité de Carcassonne, from the French Ministry of Culture