Friday, November 27, 2015

Avignon, France: Palais des Papes & Pont Saint-Bénézet

Actual date of this event: 6 May

Avignon's biggest attraction is the Palais des Papes (the Pope's Palace), which became the residence of the Popes in the early 14th century when Pope Clement V fled from Rome. Over the years, it went through several phases of reconstruction and expansion, and cost a great deal of the papacy's budget. The completed palace became an enormous 11,000 sq.m. (118,403 sq.ft.) building where seven successive popes lived. The Popes returned to Rome in 1377, and it has since been passed between the hands of several authorities. 

{Above: The top of  Avignon Cathedral's (Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon) bell tower.}

We took a walk through the palace, which definitely proved its size. It felt like we walked forever and ever, up and down stairs many times. The signs inside were all in French, but there were a few small papers with English translation. The rooftop terrace gave us great views of the square below and the city around us.

{Above: Fort Saint-André - who knew Luke had his own fort!?}
After we finished in the Palace, we headed over to the Pont Saint-Bénézet (also known as Pont d'Avignon). Originally built in the late 12th century, the bridge we see today was rebuilt in 1234. It had 22 arches that spanned over 900 meters (~0.5 miles) with a width of 4.9 meters (16 feet). The bridge was neglected for years, and in the 17th century a flood wiped away the majority of it. Today, only four arches still stand along with Saint Nicolas Chapel on the upstream side of the bridge.

{Above: View of the bridge from Rocher des Doms.}
In 1995, the Palais des Papes, Pont Saint-Bénézet, and Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon were jointly named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We did not get a chance to go into the Cathedral, but we did enjoy visiting the other two sites. 

More from the South of France: IntroNiceAntibesMonacoEze VillageAvignonPope's Palace & Pont d'AvignonPont du GardBuissonSt. RemyLes BauxArlesNîmes

Residents of Avignon can visit both the palace and bridge for free, but everyone else must pay 13.50EUR for entry.

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