In christian history there is probably no city where the Popes impact had been more visible than in Avignon (also called the City of the Popes), not even Rome. Ruling christianity from Avignon for little more than 70 years in the 14th century, even today the grand Palais des Papes (english: Papal Palace) is absolutely dominating the cityscape. It was pope Clement V. who moved the papal seat from Rome to Avignon, which lay at the border of the French Kingdom, but still inside the Holy Roman Empire and next to the papal ruled Comtat Venaissin. In 1348 the pope bought the city Avignon from Joanna I of Naples and added it to the Papal State. However in 1377 the pope moved the papal seat back to Rome. Still the Palais des Papes served seven popes and two antipopes as their seat, followed by the papal legates for centuries.
The Papal Palace was built between 1335 and 1370. Benedict XII ordered the building of the old palace (Palais-vieux) in 1335 and Clement VI. began building the new palace (Palais-neuf) in 1342. The main architects were Pierre Poisson (old palace) and Jean de Louvres (new palace) while the extensive ornamentations were done by two italian masters of the School of Siena – Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti. In the streetline panorama above we see the new palace with the main entrance on the right, the old palace with the large tower Tour de la Campane left of it, a little bit to the back, and the Avignon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon) left of the Papal Palace. After the popes left Avignon the Papal Palace gradually lost its importance and slowly deteriorated. Following the french revolution it was used as a military barracks and prison which resulted in the damage of most of its interior and frescos. Since 1906 it is a national conservation project and undergoes restoration ever since. However, the Palais des Papes is the largest gothic style building of europe and together with the cathedral and the famous Pont St. Bénézet bridge it earned the city UNESCO world heritage status in 1995.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon was originally built in the 12th century and serves as the seat of the archbishop of Avignon. After restoration in the 19th century a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary was placed atop in 1859. It contains the mausoleum of Pope John XXII (died 1334). This streetline panorama view of the Papal Palace in Avignon was presented in week 25 of our 101 weeks 101 cities of europe project.