Although some form of fortification has been on this specific tract of land since the Roman era, the fortified city of Carcassonne as it is seen today was constructed throughout the 12th century. It stayed an impregnable fortress for the next several hundred years and was saved from being dismantled in the mid-1800s through a program of complete restoration.
In the ensuing centuries the city outgrew its walls, and today visitors will find a fully modern French town leading up to the gates. But great care has been taken at this UNESCO World Heritage site to keep the grounds surrounding the fortified city as they were, allowing for spectacular views from many vantages. In fact, while it is tempting to stay in one of the few hotels within the walls, it is recommended that you stay outside and enjoy the view of the city.
The walled city of Carcassonne is within walking distance of the Carcassonne train station, as well as the Canal du Midi, for those traveling by barge. There is plenty of parking outside the walls.