Avignon - Main Sights

Main Sights

In the part of the city within the walls, the buildings are old but in most areas they have been restored or reconstructed (such as the post office and the Lycée Frédéric Mistral). The buildings along the main street, Rue de la République, date from the Second Empire (1852–70) with Haussmann façades and amenities around Place de l'Horloge (the central square), the neoclassical city hall, and the theater district. In 1960, Avignon was the subject of considerable debate during the creation of conservation areas. The then mayor of the district proposing a renovation of the district known as the Quartier de la Balance, that incurred the demolition of about two-thirds of the area, keeping only the listed buildings. The solution was adopted as a compromise, with a part of the neighborhood near the Palace Square actually enjoying a true restoration

  • Notre Dame des Doms, the cathedral, is a Romanesque building, mainly built during the 12th century, the most prominent feature of the cathedral is the gilded statue of the Virgin which surmounts the western tower. The mausoleum of Pope John XXII is one of the most beautiful works within the cathederal, it is a noteworthy example of 14th century Gothic carving.
  • Palais des Papes ("Papal Palace"), almost dwarfs the cathedral. The palace is an impressive monument and sits within a square of the same name. The palace was begun in 1316 by John XXII and continued by succeeding popes through the 14th century, until 1370 when it was finished.
  • Minor churches of the town include, among the others, St Pierre, which has a graceful façade and richly carved doors, St Didier and St Agricol, all three of which were built in the Gothic architectural style.
  • Civic buildings are represented most notably by the Hôtel de Ville (city hall), a modern building with a belfry of the 14th century, and the old Hôtel des Monnaies, the papal mint which was built in 1610 and became a music-school.
  • Ramparts, built by the popes in the 14th century, still encircle Avignon and they are one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence. The walls of great strength are surmounted by machicolated sattlements, flanked at intervals by thirty-nine massive towers and pierced by several gateways, three of which date from the fourteenth century. The walls were restored under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
  • Bridges include the little bridge which leads over the river to Villeneuve-les-Avignon, and a little higher up, a picturesque ruined bridge of the 12th century, the Pont Saint-Bénézet, projects into the river.
  • Pont d'Avignon (Pont St-Bénézet, see below) Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet. But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d'Avignon.
  • The Calvet Museum, so named after Esprit Calvet, a physician who in 1810 left his collections to the town, has a strong collection of paintings, metalwork and other collections. The library has over 140,000 volumes.
  • The town has a statue of Jean Althen, who migrated from Persia and in 1765 introduced the culture of the madder plant, which long formed the staple—and is still an important tool—of the local cloth trade in the area.
  • The Musée du Petit Palais (opened 1976) at the end of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes, has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many "primitives" from the collection of Giampietro Campana.
  • Collection Lambert, housing contemporary art exhibitions
  • Musée Angladon, which exhibits the paintings of a private collector who created the museum
  • Musée Lapidaire, with the archeological and medieval sculpture collections of the Fondation Calvet, in the old chapel of the Jesuit College.
  • Musée Louis-Vouland
  • Musée Requien
  • Palais du Roure

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