Palais de Papes | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Palais de Papes

Avignon, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020

About Palais de Papes

Palais de Papes (Popes’ Palace) is a medieval fortified palace in Avignon, southern France.

Palais de Papes history

A magnificent 15,000 square metre palace defended by ten towers, some might be surprised to find that this heavily protected complex was the fourteenth century seat of the papal court or “Curia” rather than a military stronghold. In fact, it was Pope Clement V who had transferred the court from Rome to Avignon in 1309 in order to avoid the conflict which raged in its former home.

Over the next decades, seven popes, including Clement VI and Innocent VI, built and expanded the Palais de Papes, transforming it into the buildings seen today.

From the frescos depicting hunting imagery in the fourteenth century Stag Room to the vast Great Chapel, the Palais de Papes offers an insight into the time of the Avignon Papacy. In 1377, the papacy moved back to Rome and the Palais de Papes was used to house Papal representative or “legates”.

During the French Revolution, the Palais de Papes was stripped of much of its riches by looting.

Palais de Papes today

Today, most of the site is open to the public and, since 1995, the Palais de Papes has formed part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Audio guides are included in the entry ticket and guided tours are available for an extra fee.

Offering countless and incomparable riches, as much architectural as pictorial, the Palace plunges visitors into the heart of the splendour of the papal court. A good hour is needed to discover the more than 25 rooms open to the public: the ceremonial halls, the courtroom, the consistory, the chapels with their magnificent frescoes by the famous painter Matteo Giovanetti and the popes’ private apartments.

The Palace organizes cultural events, theme tours, exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. It also houses within its walls the Musée de l’Oeuvre. In summers, a big art exhibition takes up the Great Chapel while the Main Courtyard becomes an open-air theatre with shows from the Avignon Theatre Festival created by Jean Vilar in 1947.

Getting to Palais de Papes

The address of the palace is Place du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France. The palace is located on the east bank of the Rhone river. The nearest train station is Gare d’Avignon Centre. From Gare d’Avignon Centre, the Palais de Papes is only a 15 minute walk away or a 5 minute taxi/bus ride.

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