Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Greetings from Campagne-sur-Aude

We spent Tuesday in the land of the Cathars, beginning at the Cité de Carcassonne which was a center of the religion that was the target of the Albigensian Crusades. We toured the incredible restored walled city, which maintains some of the earliest Roman features in its largely medieval fortress, and visited the Museum of the Inquisition before having lunch in one of the cafés that now occupy the old stone buildings. Then we drove to Rennes-les-Bains, a town founded over the hot springs along the river Sals, which feeds into the Aude. This town and Rennes-le-Chateau are connected with legends concerning Mary Magdalene and the Templar treasure, and we visited the latter as well, though the Bérenger Saunière museum with its links to the Merovingians, the Cathars, the Priory of Sion, the Holy Grail, and Mary Magdalene was not open, though we got to see several Cathar ruins in the nearby mountains. Now we're in Campagne-sur-Aude so that in the morning we can visit Montsegur, where the Cathars made their last stand.

Outside the walled city gate with the new statue of the legendary Dame Carcas...

...and inside with the historic version of which the new one is a copy.

The Inquisition museum has many examples of torture, hangings, beheadings, burnings...

...and forms of punishment that stuck around long after the Crusades and Inquisition itself.

Pigeons have taken up residence inside the basilica within the walls of Carcassonne.

Many of the tourist shops in the old city would be at home at a Renaissance faire!

These are the remains of the ancient Roman baths at Rennes-les-Bains...

And this is the Magdalene Tower in Rennes-le-Chateau.

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