The fortified city of Carcassonne stands majestically on a hill overlooking the surrounding picturesque rural Languedoc with incredible views of the distant Pyrenees Mountains. The closest big city in the area is Toulouse. From this part of France the Spanish border is quite close.
Many of the medieval French castles are not built as defensive structures, but as entertainment palaces. Carcassonne Palace was built, however, like the battle forts on English-Scottish border, such as Alnwick Castle which remains impregnable against any enemy invasion. For many years, Carcassonne marks the border between France and Aragon (kingdom in modern Spain). In 1659, however, the boundary was moved south to the Pyrenees and Carcassonne lost its military importance.
Strategically important is the location of the fortified city Carcassonne as for thousands of years it passed important trade, cultural and economic ways. The region is also considered a key center between west and east.
In the 19th century, the neglected condition of the walls of Carcassonne was in such desperate circumstances, it had been decided for it to be demolished. By order of the French Government the fortified walls of Carcassonne castle were demolished and built anew in a rather successful, although authentic way by the architect of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Today, more than three million visitors come each year to Carcassonne to walk nearly 2 miles beyond the long fortified walls of the palace. Beyond them is a pleasant maze of medieval streets and museums. Over 50 towers rise from the inner fortifications, which offer a view of the the River Aude and the surrounding green valleys of which are unique. Beyond the entrance of the fortress fencing Carcassonne is free, but to visit the main palace you will have to pay a fee of $ 10 per person.
Today the centre of the old castle Carcassonne contains museums, restaurants and diverse tourist shops. Over 50 restaurants lie inside Carcassonne’s walls offering popular gourmet delights of the region.