Carcassonne is the most impressive fortified medieval town to be found, located one hour drive east from Toulouse in the South East of France. This city is the perfect stop over on the way from the South-West to the South-East of France (or vice versa). Carcassonne is also the gate to Spain and Barcelona is easily reached through the Pyrenees mountains with a TGV train.
Due to its position on historical routes across France, the location has been occupied for more than 5,000 years, and was an important centre from 2,500 years ago onwards.
Carcassonne consists of a lower, external defensive wall surrounding a higher wall with many towers, which itself encloses the ancient town (La cité). During the 12th century, in the South of France, a christian religion different from catholicism developped: catharism. This new belief based on christianity but very critical towards catholocism was quickly spread to all Occitany. To thwart this influence, Pope Innocent III decided to start the crusade against the Albigeans and get them exterminated. It remains from this bas time of history some impressive fortresses hanging in the slopes of the Pyrenees.
In the middle of the 19th century Carcassonne city was in such bad repair that it became scheduled for demolition...and it was saved by the efforts of the local mayor.