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Carcassonne became strategically identified area, when Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and eventually made it the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum. The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times. In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453. At that time were built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches: traces of them still stand.
Theodoric is thought to have begun the
predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508, the
Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. In 725, saracens
from Barcelona took Carcassonne, but in 759-60, King Pepin the Short (Pépin le
Bref) drove them away. Though King Pepin took most of the south of France, he
was unable to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne. After the
disintegration of the Frankish Empire and the beginning of the feudal period,
the city fell under the power of the family Trankavel. In the following
centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the counts of
Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Château Comtal and the Basilica of
Saint-Nazaire. In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new
cathedral, a Catholic bastion against the Cathars. Trankavels ruled here from
the 11th to 13th centuries and Carcassonne began to flourish and become an
important strategic point in the Languedoc due to a flourishing trade links
with the Far East. In 12th century, Carcassonne became famous in its role in
the Albigensian Crusades, when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars,
and in the eyes of the Pope got a bad name, as a hotbed of heresy. In August
1209 the crusading army of Simon de Montfort forced its citizens to surrender.
Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's
surrender, held in his own dungeon and allowed to die. Montfort was appointed
the new viscount. He added to the fortifications. Carcassonne became a border
citadel between France and the kingdom of Aragon (Spain). After Montfort
captured dozens of settlements Qatari Languedoc in a short time, as they say
"in one devil breath." In 1218 the Crusaders laid siege to Toulouse,
but it was at the siege killed Simon de Montfort. There is a version that the
stone which hit him straight, was released women Toulouse. Note that the mother
of Count Raymond-Roger was the Countess of Toulouse. Carcassonne Castle in
Comtal preserved plate depicting the siege of Toulouse and of the death of
Simon de Montfort.
|This is a file from the website tonkosti.ru, Author I.Potapov|
In 1240, Trencavel's son tried to reconquer his old domain but in vain. In 1247, the city was submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France and King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years' War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town.
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 that concentrated on the woollen textile industry.
Under Napoleon, Carcassonne was struck off the
roster of official fortifications. The fortified city of Carcassonne fell into
such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished.
A decree to that effect that was made official in 1849 caused an uproar. The
antiquary and mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the
writer Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments, led a
campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year the
theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879), already at work
restoring the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, was commissioned to renovate the
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In 1853, works began with the west and southwest walling, followed by the towers of the porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the towers and of the ramparts. In 1879, Viollet-le-Duc's pupil Paul Boeswillwald continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne, and the rehabilitation was finished by the architect Nodet.
In 1997, Carcassonne fortress was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The restored 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 castle itself possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. 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". Museum reminds all visitors about the events of those times, when subjected to terrible torture of heretics. But a museum is no coincidence! It was here, in the land of Carcassonne, there was a first ecclesiastical court of the Catholic Church, established by Pope Innocent III in 1215. Four years later in southern France was founded by the Church tribunal investigating crimes against the faith. In the museum of old and famous electric chair, guillotine, chastity belt, garrotte and rack as well - press and so-called skull mask of shame.
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Little ones will like Haunted House, or La Maison Hantée, which is located next to the Museum of the Inquisition. In the same area is preserved well, which was used in the days of living here cathars.
In the preparation of this article, were partially used materials of websites: www.wikipedia.org, world.lib.ru, tonkosti.ru and ww.trekearth.com