historic centre of avignon: papal palace, episcopal ensemble and avignon bridge have been on the unesco heritage sites’ list since 1995. as it is known to many, in the 14th century this city was the seat of the papacy.
the palais des papes, an austere-looking fortress, dominates the city and the remains of a 12th-century bridge over the rhône. beneath this marvelous example of gothic architecture, the petit palais and the romanesque cathedral of notre-dame-des-doms complete an exceptional group of monuments that testify to the leading role played by avignon in 14th-century christian europe.
in 1309 the frenchman bertrand de got, who had been elected and crowned supreme pontiff in 1305, refused to go to rome, choosing instead to install himself temporarily in the dominican convent at avignon. seven popes were to reign there until the election of martin v in 1417 and the return of the seat of the papacy to rome.
With 15,000 m2 of floor space, the palais is the biggest gothic palace in all of europe and, due to its many architectural merits, one of the most important in the world.
saint bénézed bridge, most comonly known as the pont d’avignon, was originally built in the 12th century. it is spanned 900m over the river rhône but it suffered several collapses in the following centuries. a flood in 1668 swept much of it away, and since it was not rebuilt since, only four arches (out of the original twenty-two) remain.
we have visited avignon two weeks ago. even if unable to appreciate deeper meaning of the papal palace, we were impressed by its architecture and position. the deep-green color of river rhône & surrounding trees was natural complement to yellowish shade of palace and buildings of avignon. when talking a walk around the town, we got to admire charming medieval town and its atmosphere.