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Cité de Carcassonne

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 345
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)

The Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval citadel located in the French city of Carcassonne, in the department of Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is located on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, in the south-east part of the city proper. It was the historic city of Carcassonne and features on the emblem of local rugby league team AS Carcassonne.

Fortified city of Carcassonne

Founded during the Gallo-Roman period, the citadel derives its reputation from its 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long double surrounding walls interspersed by 52 towers.[1] The town has about 2,500 years of history and has seen the Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and Crusaders. At the beginning of its history it was a Gaulish settlement then in the 3rd century A.D., the Romans decided to transform it into a fortified town.[2] The town was finally annexed to the kingdom of France in 1247 A.D. It provided a strong French frontier between France and the Crown of Aragon.

In 1659, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the province of Roussillon became a part of France, and the town lost its military significance.[3] Fortifications were abandoned and the town became one of the economic centres of France, concentrating on the woolen textile industry.

In 1849 the French government decided that the city fortifications should be demolished. This decision was strongly opposed by the local people. Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille and Prosper Mérimée, an eminent archaeologist and historian, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument. The government later reversed its decision and in 1853 restoration work began. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the architect, was charged with renovating the fortress.[4] Viollet-le-Duc's work was criticised during his lifetime as inappropriate to the climate and traditions of the region. After his death in 1879, the restoration work was continued by his pupil, Paul Boeswillwald, and later by the architect Nodet.[5]

The citadel was restored at the end of the 19th century and in 1997 it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.[6][7]


  1. ^ Les lieux remarquables de la Cité, Site Officiel de la ville de Carcassonne. Retrieved 12 May 2011 (French)
  2. ^ Jean-Pierre Panouillé, Carcassonne: histoire et architecture, Rennes: Ouest-France, 1999, ISBN 978-2-7373-2194-8, p. 7 (French)
  3. ^ François de Lannoy, La Cité de Carcassonne, Bayeux: Heimdal, 2004, ISBN 978-2-84048-197-3, p. 11 (French)
  4. ^ Joseph Poux, La Cité de Carcassonne, précis historique, archéologique et descriptif, Toulouse: Privat, 1923, p. 50 (French)
  5. ^ Carcassonne, A61 world heritage fortified city – Abelard Public Education Site.
  6. ^ Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne at the World Heritage Convention.
  7. ^ Château et remparts de la Cité de Carcassonne – Centre des monuments nationaux, Monuments historiques (English version). Retrieved 12 May 2011.

External links

  • The fortified city of Carcassonne - The official French website (in English).
  • French Ministry of Culture site on the Cité of Carcassonne, with history and virtual tour (English version available)
  • Mescladis, a site about Carcassonne, the Cité and the Bastide Saint-Louis – history and architecture
  • Le Château de Carcassonne at, with numerous pictures (French)
  • La Cité de Carcassonne on Wikisource (1888 and 1890 editions)
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