Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), Avignon

Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), Avignon (must see)

The Palace of the Popes has got to be one of the largest, if not the largest, medieval Gothic structures in Europe. It served well as a fortress, palace, and papal residence throughout the 14th century, during the Catholic schism and the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy. Six papal conclaves and seven Popes were maintained in the palace.

The palace is actually two buildings joined together. There is the old palace of Benedict II, firmly ensconced on the rock of the Doms, and the new palace of Clement VI. Clement was known to be the biggest spendthrift of the Popes of Avignon. The palace is probably the best example of International Gothic style.

The designs were made by Pierre Person and Jean de Louvres, two of France's best architects of the time. The ornamentation is beyond lavish and produced by two students from the Siena School, Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti. The papal library housed in the palace held over 2,000 volumes. It was a big draw for scholars and humanists.

The palace was huge enough to affect the organization of the church of the time. Services were centralized and the size of the administrative staff exploded. The number of people employed including lay people exceeded 1500 by 1316. In spite of this, the Avignon papacy and administration became irrelevant when operations returned to Rome.

Today the palace is a historical and architectural landmark. It has over 650,000 visitors a year, making it one of the top ten such attractions in France. It houses a convention center and a research center and serves as a library for the archives of the department of Vaucluse.

The place has over 160,000 square feet of floor space. It has twelve strong crenelated towers and walls and arches designed to withstand heavy siege bombardment. The study of Clement VI has celebrated frescoes showing deer hunting scenes. It is popularly known as the "Deer Room." Clement was not known for hunting.

The Palace regularly hosts art exhibitions. The works of Matisse, Braque, Picasso, and Mondrian have been shown there and also single exhibitions of Miguel Barcelo and Stefan Szczesny.

Why you should visit
If you miss the palace you miss the heart and history of Avignon.

Opening hours:
The Pope's Palace is open every day of the year. The last tickets are sold one hour before closing time. From 1st September to 1st November : 9am - 7pm; From 2d November to 29 February : 9:30am - 5:45pm; March : 9am - 6:30pm; From 1st April to 30rd June: 9am - 7pm; July : 9am - 8pm; August : 9am - 8:30pm

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Avignon. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) on Map

Sight Name: Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes)
Sight Location: Avignon, France (See walking tours in Avignon)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Avignon, France

Create Your Own Walk in Avignon

Create Your Own Walk in Avignon

Creating your own self-guided walk in Avignon is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Avignon's Architectural Jewels

Avignon's Architectural Jewels

Centuries of history in Avignon are well seen in the stones of some of France’s best preserved architectural monuments. The city's architecture may well not be as diverse as elsewhere in the country, but it is really difficult to find another place whose history is just as complicated and dynamic as Avignon's.

Being one of only two cities on earth that can claim to be the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Avignon Introduction Walking Tour

Avignon Introduction Walking Tour

The thing about a wall around a city is to keep unwanted visitors out. But the massive walls encircling Avignon tend to keep visitors in. And the visitors don't mind it. Is this a mystery? Not when one considers what is inside the walls of Avignon. And forget driving. Park the car and walk.

First encounter is the Popes' Palace. This awesome mountain of a palace was built in the 1300s....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles