Castle of the Week 74 – Carcassonne part 3

After having taken Béziers whose population was massacred, Simon de Montfort, in August 1209, took control of Carcassonne from 24 year old Raimond-Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Albi, Béziers and Carcassonne. Trencavel gathered the greatest possible number of his knights and withdrew to his Carcassonne fortress. The Viscount had been tolerant of the Catharism, and there was a large majority of his vassals that were followers. Following a two week siege the viscount surrendered and, by papal decree, gave up all his possessions to Montfort. Trencavel died shortly after. In 1240 his son tried to reclaim the Carcassonne fortress and after a 24 day siege, was not successful.

The Trencavels, who had ruled from the year 1067, lost their final bid to rule the Cité. It passed to the holdings of the Kings of France. Then the Castle was greatly fortified by the Northern French that gained control.

In the courtyard a true example of architectural history unfolds. Medieval Romanesque and gothic architectures are from the Viscounts, Trencavels and Royal seneschals. The Renaissance and the 19th century show in the restorations of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and the 20th century added on with wooden hoardings.

It is thanks to the restoration that Carcassonne took on the appearance it has today and is now a city with a population of 46,500 inhabitants. Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevielle, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and Prosper Mérimée are the three men responsible for saving the Cité from destruction and, by their the efforts, the Cité was saved. With the conical roofs tiled with slate, the Cité took on the look of northern design and Viollet-le-Duc drew the criticism of many. Because of the criticism in 1960 some of the Roman towers had Roman style roofs added to them and others also had flat tiles and wooden shingle roofs installed. Carcassonne and St Gimer’s church were, in December 1997, registered by UNESCO with the World Inheritance of Humanity.

After you have visited the castle you may find yourself admiring the other astounding architecture in the Cité. You may view the gates into Carcassonne they are:

Porte Narbonnaise

Porte d’Aude

Porte de Rodez

Protection Way

Porte St Nazaire

Or gaze in wonder at the Church of Saint-Nazaire and Saint Celse whose building materials were blessed by the Pope. Once inside you will find it holds an astounding array of stained glass and other medieval treasures.

You may also visit the outdoor theatre

And on July 14 enjoy the fireworks celebrating Bastille Day

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Cité and the Castle in Carcassonne, France. It has been a pleasure to bring it to you.

Write-up provided by Lady Arcola with a sincere thank you to the following websites:
Carcassonne for the picture of the cathedral.
Carcassonne Medieval Fairytale for the use of her wonderful pictures.
Leafpile for the use of their fantastic pictures of Carcassonne.