Avignon has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1995 for its historical centre, including the Palais des Papes, the episcopal ensemble, Notre-Dame-des-Doms and the Petit Palais museum, the Pont d’Avignon and its ramparts: a unique and impressive collection of monuments.
THE PALAIS DES PAPES
Nine popes lived and ruled in Avignon. The Palais des Papes is proof of their presence and symbolises the power of Christendom and the temporal and spiritual power exercised by the papacy at that time. A colossal fortress and a sumptuous palace, it was considered by contemporaries to be “the most beautiful and the strongest place in the world” (Froissart). It was built in under 20 years, from 1335 to 1352. Two popes are behind most of its construction: Benedict XII, who ordered the construction of an impressive and imposing papal palace (known as the Palais Vieux), and Clement VI, who ordered the construction of the Opus Novum extension (known as the Palais Neuf) in a new architectural style to reflect his personality. This monument has twenty-five rooms and areas which are open to the public: large state rooms which have hosted ceremonies and feasts, treasury rooms, chapels and private apartments which are home to priceless frescoes. The paintings in the chapels of Saint Jean and Saint Martial are attributed to the great Italian painter Matteo Giovannetti.
THE HISTOPAD AT THE PALAIS DES PAPES
Cutting-edge technology and augmented reality to bring history to life. Visitors can take control of their visit using a Histopad, an interactive tablet which provides spectacular historical reconstructions, created by a board of scientists. The Histopad also provides a fun, interactive treasure hunt for younger visitors. Available in 7 languages, the Histopad is included in the price of admission.
THE PONT D’AVIGNON
Originally, the bridge was 920 metres long and had 22 arches. Work began at the end of the 12th century and it was a permanent building site for several centuries. It was damaged and rebuilt several times as a result of climate change which changed the hydrological characteristics of the Rhone at the end of the Middle Ages. Work to rebuild stopped in the 17th century. Today, only four arches remain. On the second pier of the Bridge is the Saint Bénézet Chapel, the final resting place of the saint who inspired this bridge’s construction, which became an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. In the 15th century, the Saint Nicolas Chapel, the patron saint of mariners, was built on top. A stroll along the bridge as it stretches out into the Rhône offers incredible views of the Tour Philippe-le-Bel, Fort Saint-André (in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon), the Palais des Papes, the ramparts and the Petit Palais.
The bridge is the first and only site dating back to the Middle Ages which provides disabled access.
Recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1995, the Pont d’Avignon belongs to everyone.
Historical and digital 3D reconstruction of the bridge. An impressive technical feat:
the Pont d’Avignon is at the heart of century-old legends and is an icon of the region; it has also been the subject of unprecedented interdisciplinary work which has mobilised an entire community of researchers since 2010, under the supervision of Grand Avignon and the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research). On the Pont d’Avignon, visitors can view a 3D digital model on touch-screen tablets and in the 3D area; this model brings together all the research to reconstruct the bridge in its entirety.