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Sightseeing in Carcassonne - what to see. Complete travel guide

When traveling in France, don’t forget to explore the beautiful area of Languedoc. One of its most prominent cities, Carcassonne, is situated in the plain of the River Aude. This is an ancient city that consists of two main parts. Cite is the upper part of the city and the location of a beautiful fortress. This is an enchanting place, and so no wonder why many tourists get a feeling that they are in some historical fairytale. This is the best place to find out more about the past of this settlement. The territory of the castle is surrounded by thick walls. Inside the area, you will find many shops and cafes. Besides that, there are many residences of local people in this part of the city. The lower part of Carcassonne mostly has hotels, but this doesn’t mean that this part of the city is deprived of landmarks.
The history of Carcassonne started in the 2nd century BC. Gallic tribes were the first inhabitants in this region. Soon after that, Romans claimed the authority over the territory, and Visigoths became rulers in this region in the 5th century. In the 8th century, when Saracens replaces Visigoths, Francs invaded the region and added the territory of modern Carcassonne to their country. Only Cite existed until the Middle Ages. The Lower Town named Bastide on the opposite bank of the Aude River appeared much later. However, Edward the Black Prince ordered to destroy the newer part of the city in 1359. Later, Bastide was restored. The citadel has managed to retain its original look.
Just like any castle city, Carcassonne has its own legends. In the 8th century, the town of Saracens was ambushed by the troops of Charlemagne. When the king of Muslims, Balaak, dies, his wife Lady Carcas took over the leadership. The siege lasted approximately five years, and people inside the fortress didn’t have enough food for such a long period of time. When only one pig and one bag of grained remained, Lady Carcas ordered to throw the pig from the citadel’s wall. Charlemagne saw that and decided that the city had an enormous stock of food. He thought his army was not capable of continuing the siege for a long time and ordered to end it. People inside the citadel started ringing the bells and shouting «Carcas sonne». This is how Carcassonne got its name. Copyright
The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus is the oldest church in the city. It was built in the 6th century during the reign of Theodoric the Great, the leader of the Visigoths. The church was officially mentioned in the documents in 925. Later, Pope Urban II visited the city and blessed the stones used for building the church. Only naves from the original building have survived until our times. One of these naves is the main and the other two are the side ones. The basilica was reconstructed many times, and each reconstruction brought new details to the look of the church. That is why the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus that we can see now is a combination of different architectural styles such as Romanesque and Gothic.
The beautiful church got its name after two saints who were famous as patrons of this region – Saint Nazarius and Celsus. Nowadays, the basilica exhibits the main landmark – an artifact that looks like an ordinary stone. This stone has an image of the events that took place here centuries ago. It depicts the siege of the citadel by the Crusaders. The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus is active and hosts public worships every day.
Do you like thrilling activities? In this case, you need to visit the Museum of Inquisition in Carcassonne. You will learn more about the painful tortures that people accused of heresy had to endure. Why is there a museum dedicated to the inquisition in Carcassonne? In 1233, Pope Gregorius IX created the inquisition by giving the Dominicans the right to judge potential heretics. These new inquisitors settled down in Carcassonne in a building that they called the Tower of Justice. Nowadays, this is a popular attraction famous as the Tower of Inquisition. It has survived until our days in great condition. In the basement of the tower, inquisitors tortured their poor victims until they admitted their sins.
During a visit to the museum, you can see an ancient electric chair, guillotine, chastity belt, garrotte (a device used to strangle a victim), and a gantry. The exhibition of this museum usually impresses visitors because it is hard to imagine that these devices were used to torture people continuously. Some installations like a press machine crushing a human skull and scold's bridles look simply scary. It is better not to bring children to this museum. They are better to explore the Haunted House while their parents are visiting the Inquisition Museum. The two venues are located close to each other.
Le Pont-Vieux is a true pride of Carcassonne. The old bridge makes it possible to get to the walls of the fortress over the Aude River. The bridge was built in the 14th century. It connected the two parts of the city for a long time. During a walk here, visitors can admire a gorgeous panorama of Carcassonne and the river. The sound of the river is calming and relaxing. The surrounding nature is attractive and picture-perfect.
A railway connects Carcassonne with Toulouse. The journey lasts one hour. The ride from Narbonne will be even shorter – the train will take you to Carcassonne in just forty minutes. It is also possible to reach the city from other destinations such as Beziers and Montpellier. However, the ride will be longer in this case, ranging from more than one hour to two hours. Carcassonne Airport accommodates flights from many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Belgium.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Carcassonne and surroundings

Reference information
Map of all castles
Survived castles around Carcassonne
♥   Castle 'Château de Carcassonne' Aude, 1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Château de Arzens' Aude, 11.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Château de Miramont' Aude, 12.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Château de Lastours' Lot, 14 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Château de Pieusse' Aude, 17.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all parks
National and city parks around Carcassonne
♥   Regional Nature Park 'Haut-Languedoc' , 52.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Regional Nature Park 'La Narbonnaise en Méditerranée' , 55.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Regional Nature Park 'Pyrénées catalanes' , 72.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Regional Nature Park 'Pyrénées ariégeoises' , 91.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Natural Park 'Alt Pirineu' , 104.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo

Sights around Carcassonne from our guide 'Extreme places on Earth'

Le Canal du Midi

From the series “Greatest Man-Made Waterways and Channels”
Baron Paul Rica was a contributor to the ambitious project. He was the one who had helped finance the third part of construction work. Since 1996 the Canal du Midi has been a historical structure of world importance. It can surely apply for being the most beautiful canal of the planet. The surrounding scenery is simply breathtaking. These places get a lot of photographers’, painters’ and other artists’ attention. … Read further

Fortified city of Carcassonne

From the series “The Most Interesting UNESCO Sites in France”
It is necessary to overcome a steep spiral staircase to climb the bell tower. The panoramic view of the historic city from its height will be a reward for your efforts. The museum is located on the territory of the fortress. There is a collection of unique exhibits there. They date back to the Middle Ages. Collections of works of art, ancient weapons, religious artifacts, and various ethnographic exhibits are stored here. Several interesting historical festivals are held on the territory of the fortress of Carcassonne throughout the year. … Read further
Car rental on Rentals in Carcassonne

Hilton builds third luxury hotel in Kyoto

The project organizers note that the new Kyoto hotel is perfect for both business and leisure. Just to remind you, the opening of the Roku Kyoto hotel took place in the city in 2021. The luxury hotel also never ceases to amaze guests with its exquisite atmosphere and variety of services. It is close to famous attractions like Kinkaku-ji Temple, and Shozan Resort Kyoto Pavilion is a short walk from the hotel. Read this


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Sightseeing in regions nearby Carcassonne

All about Carcassonne, France - sightseeings, attractions, touristic spots, architecture, history, culture and cuisine. Prepare your trip together with - find out the 'must see' things in Carcassonne, which places to visit, which excursions to take, where the breathtaking views are waiting for you. Planning your trip with this travel guide will help your to get the most out of Carcassonne in few days. - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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