The fortified city of Carcassonne

Located south of France, between Perpignan and Toulouse, in the Languedoc-Roussillon area, the city of Carcassonne It is especially known as fortified medieval village. Its history goes back to the century VI B.C.. as a Roman city and later fortified, in the 4th century, as a response to three centuries of occasional invasions as it was a border town to the north of the Visigoth kingdom. After the Muslim occupation, in the years 725 to 759, Carcassonne passed into the hands of the Franks and during the feudal period it emerged as a principality, extending its dominions to Nimes.

Marked by the great influence of religion Cathar, in 1208 he undertook a crusade against the Albigenses which resulted in a new territorial conquest, annexing the royal domain in 1226. From then until the signing of the Pyrenees treaty, Carcassonne constitutes a key piece of the defense device border between France and Aragon. Already, in 1997, the city became part of the list of the Unesco World Heritage.

Castle, walls and towers

There are four access doors to the interior of the city, located on the walls and coinciding with the cardinal points:

Narbonne gate. Located in the eastern section and named for being oriented towards the city with the same name. Date of the year 1280 and it is made up of two towers on three levels, which frame a central body of defense. The access door is reinforced by a double rake and guarded by matacanes, from which projectiles could be launched, in case of attack. In order to withstand the times of siege, in the north tower a chamber was used to store food and the south tower was equipped with a water cistern.

In 1859 a rehabilitation was carried out that gave it a kind of drawbridge that did not originally exist.

The door of the Aude. So called because it is open towards the Aude river, in the western part of the complex. It is the sector with the most difficult access to the fortified area, protected by a barbican, a castle and a matacán (platform with holes to launch projectiles, located at the top of the wall).

Its configuration reveals a sophisticated defensive system: doors that do not really exist, in order to circumvent an intrusion attempt, and corridors with nooks and crosses that become a labyrinthine trap, leaving the invader exposed to gunfire from all angles.

The access ramp had its beginning in the barbican, currently missing. The ascent was done through curves and turns to make entry difficult.

The origin of this part of the wall is Visigoth and its reinforcement consisted of being elevated on the wall itself and reinforced with three buttresses (XIII century).

The door of the borough or Rodez. Located to the north and guarded by two towers, this simple gate connected the city with the old borough of Saint-Vincent and its defense consisted of the Notre-Dame barbican and the Mourétis tower.

The Saint-Nazaire gate. Located in the tower with the same name, in the southern area of ​​the enclosure. It gives access to the wall and the citadel through a passageway protected by machicolations and loopholes (vertical, narrow and deep openings that were located in the walls and allowed to launch arrows or crossbows).

Its original defensive approach was very complex, but the structure was modified in the mid-19th century, losing its character.

Along the wall, different towers With their own stories they will delight us on this visit to the past of this beautiful walled city: the Visigothic tower, the Inquisition tower, the Cahuzac tower or the Mi Padre tower. The cathedral of Saint-Nazaire et Saint-Celse, inside the enclosure or the lapidary museumOn the first floor of the castle are other important elements included in the visit to Carcassonne.

Carcassonne The Fortified Town (September 2023)

  • castles, world heritage
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