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!
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.
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).
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.
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 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
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 than4 km.
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.
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