Friday, October 26, 2012

Avignon and the Palace of the Popes

Remember when I said I ditched Paris for a part of my book, and relocated an entire plot point to another city in France? Avignon is where I resettled my characters -- not just because Avignon is fun to see and say, though that's part of it, but because Avignon was, for some time in the 14th Century and early 15th Century,* host to a series of Popes and Anti-Popes. And while they were there, as you might imagine, all flaws of the Catholic Church considered, they built a pretty magnificent palace.**

Of course, the popes (and most especially the anti-popes) could not stay forever. For some reason people REALLY felt the Pope belonged in Rome. The palace was besieged and the anti-pope residing within was made to flee (so that France could recognize a DIFFERENT Anti-Pope, but whatever). The result was that by the time Avignon matters to me, the Palace is kind of abandoned. Avignon was not willing to admit it belonged to the Church (seriously, the anti-pope business was ridiculous) but it was kind of a mess after the whole besieging business. In short, it's ripe for my picking, because nobody was really doing anything with it either way for this tiny window which actually, really, by coincidence, lined up with my book.***

What's that you say? You'd like to see some video information about this pretty sweet monster palace? But of course! Short and sweet and pretty impressive:

*guys, I cannot emphasize enough how much I prefer antiquity to the middle ages and beyond.

**Which I am now dying to go see in person, of course. Also, all the credit to Avignon for having such an informative website for the Palace of the Popes!

***History Score!


  1. Totally worth a visit. They also have a rather famous bridge there. We have a video of our girls singing Sur le pont d'Avignon while on the pont d'Avignon.

    Avignon is one of the very few places where I've become lost. The old city takes the expression "twisty streets" to a whole new level.

    1. Yeah -- they talk about the bridge a little bit in the video. It looks pretty impressive, even as broken down as it is!

      I'd better make sure I don't try to go to Avignon alone, if its that bad. I'm slightly/totally directionally impaired in the best of circumstances!

  2. I know I've been to the Papal Palace in Avignon, but I don't remember it being that pretty inside. Then again, I ditched most of the tour because I nearly passed out from heat stroke.

    What I do remember is that the main room they had their meetings in was HUGE because everyone had to be allowed a seat with his back to the wall. They were so concerned about being murdered (assassinated, I suppose) that no one would agree to a talk if he couldn't have a thick stone wall at his back.

    1. Ha!!! I am both amazed and unsurprised by this! Great factoid!!

      Personally I think if your paranoia and fear runs that deep, you are probably doing the whole religion thing wrong.


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