Palace of the Popes (Palais des Papes)
The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is one of the largest Gothic buildings in all of Europe and was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. Avignon became the residence of the Popes in 1309 during the period of the Avignon Papacy. It was then expanded and grew to occupy an area of 11,000 m² (2.6 acres). The papacy spent a large amount of money on the building during construction. The interiors are no less grand than the exteriors; the rooms were luxuriously decorated with expensive frescos, tapestries, paintings, sculptures and wooden ceilings.
The palais deteriorated for the next couple of hundred years despite restoration efforts and was then sacked during the Revolutionary period. The Palais was eventually taken over by the Napoleonic government for military use during which time it further deteriorated. It finally became a national museum in 1906, and persistent restoration efforts have been performed ever since. Most of the Palais is now open to the public. In addition, the it houses an expansive convention centre and the archives of the département du Vaucluse.
Explore the historical grounds of the Palais des Papes, a testament to the enormous wealth once amassed by the papacy.
If you are a history buff, take a tour of the Palace of the Popes with the audio guide that comes with the admission price. It you simply want to admire the palace’s architecture, take the view in from across the river on the Ile de la Barthelasse.