The Palais des Papes is, like its eponymous bridge, an emblematic monument of the city of Avignon. The imposing building, built by the Frenchmen Pierre Peysson and Jean de Loubières, was for a long time the official residence of the popes exiled from Rome. Do you know everything about this construction popular with tourists from all over the world, both palace and fortress?
- 1/ The Palais des Papes is the largest Gothic construction of the Middle Ages
- 2/ The pontifical library of Avignon is the largest in Europe
- 3/ The Palais des Papes makes Avignon one of the most touristic cities in France
- 4/ The Palais des Papes, a historical monument since 1840
- 5/ The French, but also the Italians behind the construction of the Palace
- 6/ The tower of the fortress housed a fabulous collection of prestigious Burgundy wines
- 7/ A TV series filmed at the Palais des Papes
- 8/ An exotic menagerie at the bottom of the secret gardens
1/ The Palais des Papes is the largest Gothic construction of the Middle Ages
The Palais des Papes in Avignon is said to be the largest Gothic building ever built . It is indeed renowned for embodying the Gothic style in all its splendour. In France of course, but also throughout the world. The Palace actually overlaps two buildings : the former palace of Benedict XII, a fortress erected on the rock of the Doms, and the “new” palace of Clement VI.
2/ The pontifical library of Avignon is the largest in Europe
It is in the tower of the fortress of Benedict XII that the famous pontifical library was erected. This housed, at the time of the third pontificate, more than 2000 works , distributed in several sections: civil law & canon, medicine and theology. Petrarch , famous Italian poet , founder of humanism, frequented it assiduously. Indeed, the latter spent all his youth in Avignon.
3/ The Palais des Papes makes Avignon one of the most touristic cities in France
With the theater festival and the eponymous bridge, the Palais des Papes is largely responsible for the strong tourism in Avignon. In 2019, more than 670,000 registered visitors . Avignon would also be one of the most touristic cities in France, of which nearly half of the tourists are foreigners (Americans or Germans).
4/ The Palais des Papes, a historical monument since 1840
The historical heritage of the city of Avignon is very rich. The Palais des Papes has been a historical monument since 1840 , and since 1995 has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Let’s not forget the Pont Saint-Bénézet (renamed the “pont d’Avignon”), the city ramparts and the Doms Cathedral.
5/ The French, but also the Italians behind the construction of the Palace
The Frenchmen Pierre Peysson and Jean de Loubières are the architects to have developed the incredible Palais des Papes in Avignon. But they were not the only ones, quickly joined by the Italian fresco painters of the school of Siena , Matteo Giovanetti and Simone Martini.
6/ The tower of the fortress housed a fabulous collection of prestigious Burgundy wines
In addition to its pontifical library and its apartments, the largest tower of the papal palace, 46 meters high , also housed precious coins and dishes imported by boat. But not only: an incredible cellar also contained the most prestigious wines of Burgundy, very appreciated by Benoit XII!
7/ A TV series filmed at the Palais des Papes
In 2007, a Franco-Swiss production filmed a series at the Palais des Papes. This is called “ The Prophecy of Avignon ” and is rooted in esotericism. The series, consisting of 8 episodes of 52 minutes, was broadcast on France 2 during the summer of the same year. In the cast: Louise Monot, Guillaume Cramoisan and Bruno Madinier.
8/ An exotic menagerie at the bottom of the secret gardens
At the bottom of the palace gardens, an exotic menagerie was supposed to impress passing visitors. The popes would not have failed to exhibit the captured wild animals to their guests… To mark the glory and prestige of the papal places, poor lions, bears and other exotic animals would have been locked up in the gardens of the Palace of the Popes. … Fortunately, those times are over!