Carcassonne is famous for it’s medieval fortress and wine-making, with three distinct wine appellations in the area. Upon arrival I felt as if I had stepped into a fairytale. The fortified city itself consists essentially of a concentric design of two outer walls with 53 towers and spiky turrets built over time.
One section is Roman and notably different from the medieval walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of the towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century and is still known as “The Inquisition Tower”. Carcassonne was demilitarised under Napoleon and the Restoration, and the cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished. There was a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. The architect Viollet-le-Duc, who left his mark on many of France’s landmarks, including Norte Dame in Paris, began work in 1853 with the west and southwest walls, followed by the towers. The restoration was strongly criticized during the architects lifetime. Yet, overall, his achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.
Efforts have been made to improve the esplanade that people pass through without stopping. Two aisles with planters of roses embellish the space with color and the lawn brought a nice touch of greenery. The Ferris wheel was a kaleidoscope of color in the evenings. As you can see, the medieval fortress was as equally captivating by the light of day as it was by moonlight at night. No, we were not interested in the horse drawn carriage tour, but I couldn’t resist a couple of photos. We enjoyed our time in Carcassonne on foot.
Just a few parting shots before you go.