Palais des Papes in Avignon

palais des papes avignonThe construction of the Palais des Papes began in 1335, and was finished in under two decades. It was made up linking two pre-existing buildings, namely the ancient palace of Benedict XII, a fortress set atop the seemingly unassailable rocher des Doms (a rocky spur rising over the left bank of the Rhône which had guarded over the founding and subsequent development of the city of Avignon), and the new palace of Clement VI, the most flamboyant of the Avignon Popes.
Designed as both a fortress and a palace, the Palais des Papes is the biggest Gothic building of the Middle Ages and the most important Gothic palace worldwide, covering an area an excess of 15,000 m2 - the equivalent of four Gothic cathedrals. As the Papal residence, it was the seat Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six Papal Conclaves were held in the Avignon palace, leading to the elections of Benedict XII, in 1335 ; of Clement VI, in 1342 ; of Innocent VI, in 1352 ; of Urban V, in 1362 ; of Gregory XI, in 1370, and of Benedict XIII, in 1394.
The palace was designed by the most renowned French architects of the time, Pierre Peysson and Jean de Louvres, known as de Loubières, in collaboration with two of the great fresco painters from the Siena School of painting, Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti.

The Palais des Papes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes 650,000 visitors every year and ranks in the top ten of the most visited monuments in France.

Avignon's papal library, which, with over 2,000 volumes, used to be the biggest in existence drew a great many illustrious men of letters, one of which was Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)), the Italian poet and humanist.
Throughout the year, the Palace houses a wide variety of animations and cultural events; there are numerous artistic and educational exhibitions, themed visits and tours, galleries, concerts…
During the summer period there is a major art exhibition in the Grande Chapelle, and July sees the Cour d'Honneur of the Palace play host to a major show of the Festival d’Avignon.