After our night in Sete (see ‘Boats’ blog), we started inland and stopped in Carcassonne, where sits the largest castle that I have ever visited. We crossed the mote, toured the ramparts, wandered around the medieval village and finished the afternoon sipping champagne in the courtyard of the hotel inside the castle walls.
There was also an excellent art exhibit right before entering the town by Guy Ferrer who sculpted each letter of the word, Tolerance. See the ‘T’ sculpture in one of the pics.
Occupied since the Neolithic, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between two great axes of circulation linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire and was later taken over by the Visigoths in the fifth century who founded the city. Also thriving as a trading post due to its location, it saw many rulers who successively built up its fortifications up until its military significance was greatly reduced by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself. It provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall beneath.