In our articles we have often repeated that France is not just Paris and its environs. It is very great and beautiful country, full of interesting provinces, cities, towns, villages, thousands of sights. This time we would like to tell you about one old French town, whose role in terms of influence on European history is no less than Paris. So, its name is Avignon.
Avignon is located to the south of Paris in Marseilles direction and you can get there by express train from Gare de Lyon in a little over two hours. Today it is the capital of Vaucluse department in the province of Provence.
This beautiful town was founded in the the beginning of the second millennium by Gali tribe of Covares, and surprisingly, even today there are some distinctive features of that time (particularly, it concerns the Roman era).
However, the most significant milestone in the history of Avignon is related to the Middle Ages and the Catholic Church. For many centuries the city and its environs were the property of the popes, and almost all fourteenth century Avignon was the residence of the Pope. Thanks to this the city’s population was about 100 thousand people, making it one of the biggest cities in France at that time. True, many years later after the revolution Avignon became an ordinary provincial French town.
Despite the fact that the French Revolution brought a lot of troubles to Avignon (many old churches and other buildings were destroyed), even today visitors can enjoy the ancient church architecture – cathedrals, chapels and monasteries. Once it was called “ringing town” because of the frequent bell ringing.
There are lots of sights in Avignon, but the most notable is the rock Roc-des-Domes, which towers above the Rhone River on 58 meters, with its famous Papal Palace, built in the mid-fourteenth century. Today the palace is an important part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Papal Palace in Avignon consists of the Old and New palaces. The author of the first building was the architect Pierre Poisson Mirepo, and the decision to build the palace was belonged to Pope Benedict XII. During the papal split the residence of the antipope Clement VII and Benedict XII was exactly here.
At the time of the reign of the Emperor Napoleon almost all the rooms of the palace were the usual barracks and prison cells.
In the beginning of the 20th century the Papal Palace got the patronage of the authorities, the restoration works were carried out, and tourists from around the world were able to see this masterpiece of the medieval architecture by their own eyes. Every year the palace takes under its vaults the popular theatrical festival.
Also, speaking on Avignon, we should mention such interesting places for visit, as the cathedral of Notre Dame des Doms, the tomb of Crillon, a botanical garden.