History of Carcassonne

The city of Carcassonne can be better understood if you know its history.

The history of the city of Carcassonne and its fortress dates back to ancient times and is characterised by military conflicts, political intrigues and cultural highlights.

The city of Carcassonne is located in the south of France in the Occitanie region and is famous for its well-preserved medieval fortress, which is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved in Europe.


The city’s history begins in antiquity

The history of Carcassonne dates back to ancient times, when the Romans built the city as a strategically important military post. Over the centuries, the city changed hands several times until it finally came under the rule of the Counts of Toulouse in the 12th century. Under their rule, Carcassonne flourished as a commercial and cultural centre.

Flourishing in the Middle Ages

In the 13th century, Carcassonne was besieged and conquered during the Albigensian Crusade, which led to the destruction of large parts of the city. After the conquest, the fortress of Carcassonne was rebuilt and reinforced to fend off future attacks. The imposing city walls, towers and battlements, which can still be admired today, largely date from this period.

Decay and reconstruction

Over the centuries, the city of Carcassonne changed hands several times and was repeatedly the scene of military conflicts and political power struggles.

In the 19th century, Carcassonne’s fortress was restored under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

Before its reconstruction in the 19th century, the Cité de Carcassonne was threatened by decay. This rare photograph by Gustave Le Gray from 1851 shows the poor condition of the walls and towers. (Image: Public Domain)

Carcassonne today

Today, the fortress of Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The well-preserved medieval architecture, the picturesque alleyways and the impressive views of the surrounding countryside make a visit to Carcassonne an unforgettable experience.

The history of Carcassonne and its fortress is characterised by an eventful past that can still be felt today in the city’s imposing ramparts and towers. A visit to Carcassonne is not only a journey into the past, but also an opportunity to experience the beauty and fascination of the Middle Ages at first hand.

More information about the Cité de Carcassonne in this travel guide

FAQ 2024

Yes, the already decaying medieval old town of Carcassonne was restored in the 19th century. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The old town centre is surrounded by a 3 km long double wall with 52 towers. Inside you can see the completely preserved castle (Château comtal) and the Saint-Nazaire basilica.

You can find more information on the history of Carcassonne, pictures and tips in our travel guide

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