Palais de Papes (Popes’ Palace) is a medieval fortified palace in Avignon, southern France.
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.
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.
Palais de Papes is in the town of Avignon, southern France, around 45 km northeast of Nimes, 230 km south of Lyon. Avignon has a bus terminal with routes running throughout France and even to Spain and Portugal. The Avignon TGV train station has trains running from Paris (2.5 hours), then a bus connection to the city centre. There is also a central TGV Avignon station, with trains from Paris taking around 3 hrs 20 mins.
There is a café and a shop.
Palais de Papes is open daily from 9am. Nov-Feb, closes at 5:45pm, 1-14 Mar at 6:30pm, 15 Mar-30 Jun at 7pm, in Jul at 8pm, in Aug at 9pm, 1-15 Sept at 8pm and 16 Sept-1 Nov at 7pm. Full entry costs €8.50 from 16 Nov to 28 Feb and €10.50 from 1 Mar to 15 Nov. Discounts available and under 8s go free.
Palais de Papes, Place du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
+33 (0)4 90 27 50 00
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