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Boasting the longest city walls remaining in Europe, with battlements and ramparts dating to the 1st-century Romans, Carcassonne is the most impressive medieval town that we will visit.  After admiring its fantastic walls, you may notice the overhanging wooden ramparts attached to the upper walls of the fortress that provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed them to shoot arrows or drop projectiles on attackers beneath.  Due to its position on historical routes across France the location has been occupied for more than 5,000 years. It was first fortified by the Romans, and given the name Carcaso. After the Romans were driven out, Carcassonne fell into the hands of various of the invading tribes, and became more fortified and developed, especially after being conquered by the powerful Viscount Trencavel.


Later, in the 13th century, the Albigensian Crusade under Simon de Montfort attacked and seized this Cathar stronghold, and again more fortifications were added, sufficient enough to keep Edward the Black Prince out of Carcassonne during the Hundred Years War. Subsequently the location and town gained strategic importance from being on the frontier between France and Spain. This became less important after 1659 when the Treaty of the Pyrenees passed the town and region definitively to France - hence from the 17th century onwards the need for fortified city passed and Carcassonne became an important regional town.  The city reached its low point at the middle of the 19th century, when a century of abandon had made it perilously dangerous and the government demanded it be demolished. The buildings within the city were inhabited but in very poor condition. The efforts of the mayor and the ancient monuments inspector had this decision overturned and the restoration of the town began shortly afterwards by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation.  

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