The Avignon Papacy, also known as the Babylonian Captivity, was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven successive popes resided in Avignon rather than in Rome:
Among the popes who resided in Avignon, subsequent Catholic historiography grants legitimacy to these:
- Pope Clement V: 1305–1314 (curia moved to Avignon March 9, 1309)
- Pope John XXII: 1316–1334
- Pope Benedict XII: 1334–1342
- Pope Clement VI: 1342–1352
- Pope Innocent VI: 1352–1362
- Pope Urban V: 1362–1370 (in Rome 1367-1370; returned to Avignon 1370)
- Pope Gregory XI: 1370–1378 (left Avignon to return to Rome on September 13, 1376)
The papacy spent vast amounts of money on the facade and the luxurious frescoes in the interior. They were lavishly decorated by Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti. There are fabulous paintings and tapestries just like the Vatican in Rome.
The Palace was sacked during the French Revolution and the original luxurious contents is gone. Originally, the sumptuous fortress was the home of seven popes. It was eventually taken over by Napoleon and used for the military purposes. It became a museum in 1906.
SAINT MARTIAL CHAPEL
Commissioned by Pope Clement VI, the frescoes tell the story of Saint Martial who was sent by Saint Peter to spread the word of the Gospel in the Limousin area of France – the Pope’s native region.
SAINT JOHN CHAPEL
The walls and vault are decorated with frescoes which tell the story of the lives of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. This cycle of frescoes was painted between 1346 and 1348 by a team of artists under the direction of Matteo Giovannetti.
Avignon lies on the Rhone river. It is surrounded by stone ramparts that were built in 1355.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape literally translates to “The Pope’s new castle” and, indeed, the history of this appellation is firmly entwined with papal history. The wine produced in this region is considered “Southern Rhone”.
As is typical of the southern Rhône, almost all Châteauneufs are blended wines, with 13 grape varieties permitted. Most are blends of four grapes, with grenache playing the dominant role, abetted by mourvèdre, syrah and cinsault.
“The first thing to realize about the Southern Rhône is that virtually all the wines made there are blends. Grenache is the most widely planted grape, followed by Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsault. While single-varietal wines can be found, the vast majority follow the GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre) template. It’s a natural pairing, since Grenache is vigorous and flavorful, but also thin-skinned and lacking pigment. Hence, the darker, more powerful Mourvèdre and the fruitier Syrah are blended together to achieve a more complex, enjoyable wine.” Note that the bottles are embossed with the keys of St Peter and papal hat; unique to Châteauneuf-du-Pape bottlings.
In 1308, Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the papacy to the town of Avignon. “Avignon Popes” were said to be great lovers of Burgundy wines and did much to promote them during the 70-year Avignon Papacy.
John XXII, who succeeded Clement V, regularly drank wine from the local vineyards to the north and did much to improve viticultural practices there. Under John XXII, the wines of this area came to be known as “Vin du Pape”, this term later becoming “Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” John XXII also built the famous castle which is the symbol of the appellation.
In Avignon, visit the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), set majestically on Dome Rock. This Provençal town served as the papal seat of the Roman Catholic Church from 1309 to 1377.
Avignon is a town of art and culture best known for its annual July arts festival and the famous Pont d’Avignon also known as The Pont Saint-Bénézet , the medieval bridge spanning the Rhône River.
Stag Chamber Fresco above
Visit the historic papal city of Avignon to see the Papal Palace, the Episcopal Ensemble and the Avignon Bridge.
Here’s the UNESCO description:
“The surrounding ramparts and the remains of a 12th-century bridge over the Rhone. Beneath this outstanding example of Gothic architecture, the Petit Palais and the Romanesque Cathedral of Notre-Dame-des-Doms complete an exceptional group of monuments that testify to the leading role played by Avignon in 14th-century Christian Europe.”
Avignon has many interesting historic treasures and interesting things to see and do: a famous performing arts festival in the summer called Festival d’Avignon, Europe’s largest Gothic palace, Côtes du Rhône wine, a partially finished rhyme bridge and a historic 14th century crenellated walled city.
Book a room at the luxurious Vino con Vista La Mirande, housed in a 15th century building. www.la-mirande.fr
You can even take a cooking class http://www.la-mirande.fr/#/en/programme/
Check out the Avignon Cathedral.
Schedule a Vino con Vista adventure to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape estates in the Rhone Valley.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a French wine appellation from the Southern Rhone region known for its bold Grenache-based red blends about 12 km from Avignon. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of thirteen varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Muscardin, Counoise, Vaccarese, Picpoul, Terret Black, Clairette, Bourboulenc Roussane Picardon. Composition is the secret of the winemaker.
The imposing ruins of a 14th century castle overlook Chateauneuf-du-Pape was erected by Pope John XXII of Avignon who used it for a temporary residence. It was heavily damaged during the Religious Wars when the village was occupied by the Huguenots.
Here’s a link to events in Vaucluse:
Vaucluse has plenty of Michelin Stars. Find them here:
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ http://www.vino-con-vista.com
Watch the UNESCO video: