Carcassone was the seat of power of the Counts of Carcassonne, and then of the famous Trencavel family in the 12th century. Following the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229), when the Royal forces seized Carcassonne, accusing it of complicity with the Cathars, it became a Royal fortress. It defended the border between France and Aragon until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. In the 19th century, the city was on the verge of demolition and was used as a stone quarry. For over 50 years (1853-1911), Viollet-le-Duc and his successor Paul Boeswillwald gave it back its medieval appearance. Discover the ramparts and the château of the Counts of Carcassonne, in the heart of the fortified city. These Gallo-Roman and medieval masterpieces of military architecture have been UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1997. Get direct to gate access with your ticket to visit this incredible castle and its ramparts.
Make your own way to Carcassonne and use your pre-paid ticket to skip the line and enjoy priority access to the ancient city. Once inside, set out on a self-guided tour and spend as long as you like exploring the fortifications. Explore the three kilometers of ramparts, including two fortresses (4th and 13th centuries), four gates, and 52 towers; peek through the arrow slits for a magnificent view over Carcassonne; and visit the château of the Counts of Carcassonne.
The site, which has been inhabited since ancient times, was protected against the Late Roman Empire by a Gallo-Roman wall. Despite these fortifications, the city was occupied by the Visigoths, Saracens and Franks in turn. The château, once the seat of power of the Counts of Carcassonne, and then of the famous Trencavel family in the 12th century, fell under royal ownership following the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) initiated by Pope Innocent III. Carcassonne, which was accused of complicity with the Cathars, was besieged and fell in 1209. The city subsequently became a stronghold protected by a double outer wall.
In the 19th century, the architect Viollet-le-Duc restored the fortified city and completed the 13th century reconstruction work. Inside the city, Viollet-le-Duc also restored the basilica of Saint-Nazaire, combining a Romanesque nave and aisles with a Gothic choir and transept. The basilica features remarkable stained-glass windows, the oldest of which date from the 13th century. Several stone pieces from the basilica are also on display in the château's museum.