Carcassonne City Walls


 

Let’s return to Carcassonne for a short while and after the castle, let’s focus on the city walls a little bit. The oldest parts date back from the Gallo-Roman period, but it is in the 13th Century that the Kings of France decided to modernize and enlarge those walls that make the fortified city of Carcassonne what it is.

Those walls are built from local stones, they’re several meters wide and between 10 and 12 meters high.

There is not one but two enclosures, which made the city particularly difficult to invade. If enemies managed to breach through the first enclosure, they’d still have to go through the second while being in a very vulnerable position in between the two walls.

 

 

The Narbonne Gate

 

The Narbonne Gate, which is the gate you’ll most likely enter through when you visit Carcassonne dates from 1280 and was built under the reign of Philippe III. It gets its name from the fact that it faces East, towards the city of Narbonne, and as I have just mentioned, it is the main gate to enter the city.

 

 

 

 

 

The Walkway

 The walkway goes around most if not all of the enclosure and goes through every one of the 52 towers of the city walls. Nowadays it is possible to walk along most of these walkways.

 

 

 

 

Aude Gate

 

The Aude Gate allowed access to the River Aude from the castle. It had an amazing and intricate defense system that is nowadays unfortunately gone. The view is still amazing though.

 

 

Saint Nazaire Gate

 

The Saint Nazaire Gate is located at the southern tip of the city and also had an intricate system of defense (I really with I could tell you more about those, but you really need to be there – or for both of us to be medieval war specialists – to my explanations to make sense, sorry).

If you’ve never done so, I hope this post like the one about its castle will make you want to visit Carcassonne. Personally, maybe because I’m from the South West of France, I know much better castles, much better medieval towns, but I don’t think there is a place in Europe that has better and more amazing city walls, and in my opinion, they are the main reason why Carcassonne is probably the most impressive medieval fortified city there is.

 


About David Billa

David was born and raised in the French South West. After a few years in the US and a few more in Paris, he finally settled down in Japan. He blogs here about his various experiences and travels, with an emphasis on his home country, France.

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8 thoughts on “Carcassonne City Walls

  • Steph

    I can’t think anywhere could be more impressive than that. Thanks for the interesting post and the fabulous photos. Carcassonne is now on my ”to visit in France’ list.

    • David

      I can’t either.
      I have seen my share of medieval towns and castles, and even if I like some better for various reasons, none beats Carcassonne in terms of sheer impressiveness.

  • Evelyn

    Great photos! I especially like the Aude Gate with the cross visible thru the arch. Carcassone is definitely on my ‘to do’ list. Too bad you won’t be along to explain all the medieval military stuff! Can you recommend a book, preferably in English since my French isn’t quite up to a lot of reading.

    • David

      Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any book in English (actually I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about the Middle Ages in English, hence my lack of technical vocabulary on the matter), but if you can read French, the Éditions Gisserot are the best and most easily available that publish great books about many medieval topics and that are easily readable by anyone, not just medieval specialists. (they’re little yellow books, you may have seen them before if you’ve looked for books about France’s history).
      Some have been translated into English, but only the ones dealing with touristic places and such.

    • David

      It’s actually an entire town, no just a castle (I had talked about the castle a few weeks ago).
      But, yes, I always find it fascinating that Japan and Europe had so similar feudal systems, while looking completely different at the same time.

  • arnaud

    i have visited carcassonne a few years ago, very impressive. but they are a lot of “old” castles in france. in my aera ( in french : picardie ), there is a medieval castle at pierrefonds, near compiègne, that i visited. very impressive castle too. this castle is younger that carcassonne.
    désolé david, je fais un poil de pub pour mon département, mais y a pas que des champs et des bouseux dans l’oise ! 😉
    there is also the highest cathedral in europe at noyon !

    😉

    • David

      Are you implying that there are interesting things in Picardie?
      Just kidding, I have never been and don’t really know much about it (I didn’t even know about the “only fields and rednecks” thing… most likely a thing Parisians say isn’t it? Well, if they said anything worthy of attention, we’d know it, wouldn’t we?) 🙂
      However, it’s true that I tend to think that the only noteworthy medieval castles in France are in the South and especially the South-West for some reason. I guess because we were very lucky in terms of battlefields (i.e. pretty much none since the 100 years war), so we have a incredible amount od very old buildings everywhere.