City walls, Avignon
First to be sighted in the historical centre of Avignon are the town wall and ramparts. The popes built these in the 14th century for fortification but as it turned out, the wall was not as impregnable as the actual Palais des Papes which has walls that are 18 feet thick.
The wall is one of very few in France to be still completely intact. It is 4.3 km long and 8 meters high. There are seven gates. Originally a moat surrounded the wall but when the ramparts were restored in the 19th century, the moat could no longer be seen.
Adding to the charm and character of Avignon are the medieval fortified walls surrounding the old city. Although walls have enclosed the city of Avignon since Roman times, then under the name Avenio, the Roman fortification was destroyed and rebuilt several times up until the 14th century. With the transfer of the papal seat to Avignon, the Pope ordered the construction of the walls that exist today to better protect the city. These 14th century walls, however, extended the city well beyond the traces of the original Roman walls. These well preserved walls remain intact and measure over 4km in length - a good walking tour for those willing to cover the distance!
Not many cities still have their medieval ramparts still intact, but Avignon does. These walls and towers still encircle the inner city, called “intra-muros” (inside the walls). In most places the walls are still (or again) in good repair.
Like a lot of things in Avignon (and in Villeneuve lez Avignon, across the river), these walls were built in the fourteenth century during the time of the Popes. Specifically, the walls were begun in 1355 during the pontificate of Innocent VI for the purpose of protecting the city from attacks by the Grandes Compagnies, which were bands of mercenary soldiers who were unemployed in times of peace, so they joined together to form armed bands of robbers. The walls were finished in 1370 under Pope Urbain V.
From the start, the walls also had a secondary purpose, which was to protect the city from being flooded by the Rhône River during periods of high water.
Fifth photo: A poterne is a small opening in the wall, for people but not for vehicles. The Poterne Monclar is across from the beginning of Avenue Monclar, not far from the hotel where I was staying.
Directions: Location and photo on monumentum.fr, showing the Porte de la République and a section of the Ramparts along Boulevard Saint-Roch, across from the central railway station.
Next: Encounter zone
The papal palace has been surrounded by 4 kilometer fortification with 12-th towers. It was the most strengthened place in France at that time.
However these walls so never also have not played military value and have gradually been disassembled and destroyed. Their some sites for attraction of tourists are now restored.
I'm a sucker for a good set of city walls, and Avignon's are a cracker!
Actually, the walls (remparts in French) not particularly high, and are dwarfed by comparison with the impressive fortifications of Palais des Papes, which makes it clear where the defensive priorities were (protecting papal courts, not townsfolk!). However, they are extraordinarily beautiful and made from honey-coloured stone that glows in the Provencal light, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon.
The city walls have moved several times over the centuries to accommodate the growing town - Rue des Teinturiers, for example, was originally outside the city walls, but was incorporated in the 14th century.
Although the walls are pretty well complete, it's generally not possible to walk along the ramparts (which seems like a bit of a pity, but is probably why they're still in such good condition). I have seen reference to the fact that the ramparts are accessible close to Chapelle St-Nicholas, which is adjacent to Pont St Bénézet. Unfortunately we simply didn't have enough time to explore this possibility, but I'd be interested to know if this is the case (in which case, drop me a note and I'll amend this tip accordingly).
The fortified walls around the old city are dotted with gates (portes) such as the one in the main photograph. It is called la Porte du Rhône, an arched gateway located next to Tour du Châtelet, which leads to Pont Saint-Bénezet. The wall is also pierced with small passages for pedestrians in certain areas (see other photo).
The ramparts still encircle the entire city. They are 4.3 km long, and were started in 1355 during the Papacy of Pope Innocent VI, to protect from the assaults by the roving bands of mercenaries. They were finished in 1370 under Pope Urban V. The entrance of the Avignon Bridge provides access onto the ramparts, and to the Rocher des Doms Gardens. The views over the city and the Rhône River are breathtaking. Free entrance.
The older part of Avignon is surrounded by ramparts which were built by Popes Innocent and Urban. The walls are over 4 km long. They were used primarily to prevent attacks from roving gangs. They fell into decay until just before the mid-19C when Viollet-le-Duc completely restored them, just before he took on the Carcasonne repairs. Unfortunately the surrounding moat would have required a deep excavation to restore the outside An earlier surrounding wall was destroyed by Louis VIII in 1226 in the Albigenian War. There were originally 7 gates, 35 large square towers, 56 smaller towers, machicolations all around and associated defenses
The city wall is one of the features of Avignon. If you arrive by train at Avignon Centre station it straight in front of you.
From Roman times to the 15th century, this was a disputed area and several walls were erected, as the city was growing. The last and largest ones are well preserved, extending for more than 4 km.