Avignon – Emerging History
When you’re saying Avignon, you’re not referring to just another city in France. You’re referring to one of the most best preserved towns in Europe,Â historically speaking. A city of living history and a city of culture, Avignon is situated in South-Eastern France, on the left bank of the Rhone and at about 85 km North-West of Marseille.
Once the residence of the Head of the Catholic World, in Avignon you can still find evidence of the Golden Era that came once with the fame of the city, back then. The first pope that chose Avignon as his residence was Pope Clement V, in 1309. Seven popes lived here, until 1378. In these times, one of the most imposing buildings that was built in the Middle Ages, was erected.
The Palace of Popes (Palais des Papes) was completed to protect the papal territory, since the walls of the city were not that strong. The immense structure was built in a Gothic style and, at the present, it is a World Heritage Site of the Unesco. With 15,000 sqm of floor, the Palace of Popes is the largest Gothic palace in all of Europe.
One more astonishing sight in the city is St BÃ©nÃ©zet’s Bridge (the fabled Pont St-BÃ©nÃ©zet or le Pont D’Avignon). It was completed in 1185, built across the Rhone and it was linking Avignon with a colony named Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Measuring about 900 meters, it was repaired and rebuilt several times, but after 22 attempts of keeping it standing, in the 1600s, four of its 22 spans were washed away. After that moment, notable efforts of rebuilding it weren’t registered, so that nowadays tourists are still charmed by the remaining part of the bridge.
But Avignon is not all about history and astonishing medieval buildings, although the examples of such incredible structure may go on. One of the most important theatre festivals in Europe takes place at Avignon every year, since 1947. Festival D’Avignon, as it’s called, was founded by Jean Vilar and Rene Char and nowadays it consists of about forty productions of the French drama and dance creations, gathering more than 200,000 spectators. A big part of the success of the festival relies in the locations of the performances – churches, the famous Pope’s Palace, an old stone quarry and school halls.