While Viollet le Duc is most often credited with restoration of great buildings in France, it is less often that he won notice for new construction. St Gimer, Church in Carcassonne is one of only three new church constructions that he did.
St Gimer's was built between 1854 and 1859. IT is named after St Gimer, the bishop of Carcassone from 902-931 AD. The original church was built in the 11th century. The first sight you will catch of it is probably when you are on your tour of the castle, which gives you a lovely view. From a distance it looks splendidly Gothic, but Viollet le Duc used Gothic styles from northern France and mixed them with the most outwardly austere style of southern France.
A number of other things contributed. St Gimer is located in a working class neighborhood across the river from the bastide. At the time of construction the economy was not great in Carcassonne, so funds were very limited. Viollet le Duc intentionally turned away from the showy elaborateness of Gothic cathedrals though gothic elements are plain. In so doing he did a lot to make the church fit in well with its surroundings.
The Cathedral of Carcassonne (Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne) was originally built on orders of Louis IX in 1247. It was subsequently destroyed during the invasion by the Black Prince (1355). It subsequently replaced the much older Basilica of St Nazaire and St Celse as the Cathedral of Carcassonne in 1803.
It is perhaps easiest to notice because of its extravagant Gothic-ness, which is the result of a restoration by Viollet le Duc following the 1849 fire.
at the South end of the bastide St Louis is the Jacobin gate, the only one of the four original gates built into the city fortifications that has survived. Originally built around 1365, it was fully rebuilt in 1779.
The second photo was taken just to show how massive this gate is compared to the size of a person
If you enter at Porte Narbonnaise, there are all sorts of things there to distract you from serious sightseeing. There is a little train tour of La Cité, a carousel for the younger set and various vendors of souvenirs, the most intriguing to me are the calèches or carriages, each pulled by two magnificent horses wearing lace bonnets and little boots. The bonnets protect the horses from flies and midges and the sun. The little boots give them better traction and protect their feet. They are huge and gentle beasts and they only work a half day and live in luxury the rest of the time.
In the half day of work, they earn their hay. They pull wagonloads of tourists around between the ancient castle walls. You have marvelous views from certain points and there are other places in the walls of historic significance. It's a great way to rest your feet if you've walked all over the Cité and are ready to rest for 20 minutes.
Often we get swept up in the massive Castle of Carcassonne, surrounding the Cite, however, for centuries there was constant friction between the Cite and the Lower Town, resulting massive fortifications all over.
If you go out of Narbonne Gate and turn right before the drawbridge you will find youself in the Upper Lists - the space between the Inner and Outer Walls.
A walk through the Lists is an indispensable part of a visit to the Inner Wall. Indeed it is only when you walk about at the foot of the towers you will realise the way in which each period took advantage of what its predecessors had done while at the same time using new defensive methods.
The first-time visitor to the Citadel is often surprised to discover that iside it is a living town. You expect to find a castle and fortfications. However having passed the Narbonne Gate you will find yourself in an intricate network of streets full of souvenir shops. antique dealers, bakeries, pastry shops, food shops, restaurants and hotels.
The city teems with tourists who densely captivated its narrow trading streets with an infinite set of souvenirs.
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". Today there is a museum "Musée de la Torture", which shows some of the original torture equipment employed by the Catholic Church (have a look at my OBP tip about this Museum).
The Grande Caponniere or covered passage was a battlemented stairway of which a part still survives. This fortified passage went as far as great tower of the Barbican built by St. Louis on the site of an even older fortification.
The Barbican was demolished in 1816 and Violet-le-Duc built St. Gimer there on part of the site in about 1850.
The caponier connected the Citadel with the Barbican.
You can see on the photo the west side of the castle which is built on top of the Gall-Roman ramparts.
The folk etymology of the name – involving a châtelaine named Carcas, a ruse ending a siege and the joyous ringing of bells ("Carcas sona").
The statue of Lady Carcas - legendary heroine - stands in front of the drawbridge.
Here it is a legend about Lady Carkass.
She was the wife of Saracen king Balaak who owned a fortress by that time. Charles the Great laid siege to the city which proceeded five years.
Almost all population and garrison died out for famine. But lady Carkass together with innumerous survived defenders continued to shoot from a bow into francs besieged the city.
Charles, was absolutely despaired to take a fortress, but hoped, that famine will force Saracens to open a gate.
However artful lady Carkass undertook a following trick. All this time she fed a pig by all the vegetation which remained in the town. And it grown in a hog .
And at the turning point when Charles thought to continue siege or not, she arranged at a view at besieged a plentiful dinner for herself and the soldiers from the fried hog.
Thus she threw huge pieces of meat downwards Charles's hungry soldiers, showing, that defenders had still a lot of provisions. Charles despaired and raised the siege.
So lady Carkass deceived trustful Charles.
However the legend has the continuation. It appears, lady Carkass did not want Charles left the city. Having taken pleasure in the victory, and having seen a leaving army, she opened a gate and ordered to blow the invitation to enter the city.
Depressed Charles did not hear an appeal. Then his security guard came and told "Sire, Carcass te sonne", that was "Sir, Carcass calls you".
That is why the city received the name of Carcassonne.
The Narbonne Gate is the principal point of entry to the Citadel and is also called because it faces east towards the town of Narbonne. It consists of twin towers flanking the gateway and joined by a building constructed above the latter.
The gates having been the most vulnerable points of fortified medieval towns it is no surprise to find that even by the standards of the time this one is exceptionally strong.
The towers are about 25 metres high and the thickness taper from about 4 metres at the base to about 3 metres higher up.
Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department in the former province of Languedoc.
It is divided into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse.
The fortress, which was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.
The castle is on the hill which towers above the modern city. It is well visible from apart, it draws tourists, inviting to plunge into gray hairs of centuries.
You can watch my 6 min 40 sec Video Carcassonne out of my Youtube channel.
Located in Lower Town the memorial honors those that died defending France. Morts Pour La Patrie...A number of memorial plaques from the 50 years after World War 1, to those that died in Tunisia and Italy in World War 2, the Liberation from the Nazi camps and the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. The sculpture incorporates representations of soldiers from different periods.
Located at the heart of the Toulouse-Montpellier-Barcelone triangle Carcassonne blooms in the plains of the lower valley. It trully invites you to walk in and out of its narrow and winding streets. Just discover its history, its local cuisine, its wines, or simply enjoy the scenery. From the Bastide Saint-Louis to the medieval Walled City, Carcassonne offers a wealth of monuments to visit and discover !
One of the main squares (at the section of Rue de Petit Puits and Rue de Plo) on which some beautiful and historical buildings are situated, is the natural centre of the city of Carcassonne: a stage for various minor and major events, a reference point, a meeting place and the starting point or destination for walkers who want to discover the city. Historically speaking, the square began to operate in a shape and size similar to what we see today in the early years of the 11th century. It's a joy to be here and enjoy the vibe of the busy ancient city.
The mediaeval walled town of Carcassonne lies on the right bank of the River Aude and is featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It has 52 towers and 2 rings of town walls making a total of 3 km of battlements. There is no restriction on access to this area of Carcassonne. It is still home today to its population of approximately 120 and it boasts a large number of shops and craftsmen. For us this was the reason to visit it! But just walking around in the old city we suddenly saw a school yard and entered it. In advance we did not know about this School Museum and just stuff like this makes it worth to just wonder off and explore.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to school in another century? This museum has a full scale reconstruction of a classroom from the time of Jules Ferry. The idea behind the series of exhibitions is through a variety of media, to help the visitor understand the way that schooling in France and Europe has changed and evolved throughout the centuries.
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