June 28, 2013

0673 & 0703 FRANCE (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) - Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge (UNESCO WHS)

Papal Palace in Avignon

Posted on 09.06.2013 and completed on 28.06.2013
Located on the left bank of the Rhône river, a few kilometres above its confluence with the Durance, Avignon was founded by Gauls, becoming then a Phocaean colony, and under the Romans a flourishing city. Ruled by Goths, and then included in the kingdoms of Burgundy and of Arles, it fell into the hands of the Saracens and was destroyed in 737 by the Franks. In 879 it ceased to belong to the Frankish kings, and in 1033 it passed to the Holy Roman Empire. At the end of the 12th century it declared itself an independent republic, but its independence was crushed in 1226 during the crusade against the Albigenses. In 1274, the Comtat became a possession of the popes, with Avignon itself, self-governing, under the overlordship of the Angevin count of Provence. The popes bought Avignon from the Angevin ruler for 80,000 florins in 1348. From then on until the French Revolution (1791), Avignon and the Comtat were papal possessions.

Avignon was one of the important centers of Christianity between 1309 and 1378, when seven successive popes resided here. Following the strife between the Pope Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France, and the death of his successor Benedict XI after only eight months in office, a conclave finally elected Clement V, a Frenchman, as Pope in 1305. Clement declined to move to Rome, remaining in France, and in 1309 moved his court to the papal enclave at Avignon.

Saint Peter Church in Avignon

During the Avignon Papacy the town underwent extensive development, one of the most important building erected in this period being the Palace of the Popes (in the first postcard), an imposing fortress placed to the north and south of the rock of the Doms, partly on the site of the Bishop's Palace. In virtue of its severe architecture, this palace belongs to the Gothic art of the South of France, being one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. It is actually made up of two buildings: the old Palais of Benedict XII which sits on the impregnable rock of Doms, and the new Palais of Clement VI, the most extravagant of the Avignon popes.

Eglise Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter Church - in the second postcard) can be found in the cobblestoned Place Saint-Pierre. There has been an Eglise Saint-Pierre on the same site since the 7th century. Originally the tomb of Saint-Agricol (630-700), a bishop of Avignon and the patron saint of the city, rested in Eglise Saint Pierre but when a Saint-Agricol Church was built in the 12th century the tomb was transferred there. The church had been destroyed a few times, but it was rebuilt in 1385, the steeple being added in 1495 in a design characteristic of this area of France (Provencal-Gothic style). It was completed in 1525, and the interior has an outstanding ornamental white limestone throne from the 15th century, as well as an altarpiece depicting the Last Supper.

Since 1995, Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About the stamp (the same on the bouth postcards), the blue Marianne et l'Europe, I wrote here.

Avignon - Wikipedia
Palais des Papes - Wikipedia
Palais des Papes - Official website
Eglise Saint Pierre Avignon - Rolf Hicker - Animal, Nature & Travel Photography

sender 1: Anne Dahm (direct swap)
sent from Avignon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur / France), on 07.09.2012
sender 2: Ana
sent from Avignon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur / France), on 16.08.2012

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