June 26, 2014

1119 FRANCE (Occitania) - Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne (UNESCO WHS)

Situated in the Aude plain between two great axis of circulation linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées, Carcassonne has about 2,500 years of history and is famous for its medieval fortress, located on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, and restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. 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. The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from these times. Visigoths had occupied Carcassonne in 453, and built more fortifications. In 725 Saracens from Barcelona took the citadel, but King Pepin the Short drove them away in 759-60.

A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled the city and its environs until 1067, when they became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes. In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. The city became famous in its role in the Albigensian Crusades, when it was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. 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, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, and Carcassonne's military significance was reduced. Fortifications were abandoned, and the city became mainly an economic centre.

The historic city of Carcassonne is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defences were constructed on walls dating from late antiquity. The fortified city itself consists essentially of a concentric design with two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege engines. The 12th century count's castle (chateau comtal - in the postcard) was built over the western part of the Roman walls; it was surrounded by a rectangular fortified enclosure in 1226. possesses. The walls consist of towers built over quite a long period. One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th Century and is still known as "The Inquisition Tower". Today there is a museum "Musée de la Torture", which shows some of the original torture equipment employed by the Catholic Church.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the third set of the series The Way of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, designed by  Noëlle le Guillouzic and issued on March 17, 2014. The four stamps (all with the same face value - 0.83 EUR) in this series evoke different places located on the four main French ways leading to Spain:
• Former St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Bazas (Chemin de Vézelay)
• The cloister of the St. Peter Abbay in Moissac (Chemin du Puy) - it's on the postcard
• St Mary Cathedral in Auch (Chemin d'Arles)
• The porch of the old Pilgrim hospital in Pons (Chemin de Paris)

Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne - UNESCO official website
Cité de Carcassonne - Wikipedia

sender: Sébastien C.
sent from Cadillac (Aquitaine / France), on 09.05.2014
photo: S. Vartabedian

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been to France, unfortunately. This is one of the places I wish to see. I hope to visit in few years :)