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Palace of Popes Palais des Papes Palais des Papes, Avignon Papal Palace
Avignon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Avignon  locality
Vaucluse  county
France  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
43.950853° N, 4.807479° E
Admission and tour with guide or cassette recording: €9.50 adults, €7.50 students and seniors, free for ages 7 and under


The interior of the palace was once sumptuously decorated with frescos, tapestries, paintings, sculptures and wooden ceilings. Today, most of the rooms are sparsely furnished but some retain their original frescoes.

The Chapelle St-Jean is known for its beautiful frescoes, attributed to the school of Matteo Giovanetti and painted between 1345 and 1348. The frescoes present scenes from the life of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.

More Giovanetti frescoes can be seen above the Chapelle St-Jean in the Chapelle St-Martial. The frescoes here depict the miracles of St. Martial, patron saint of Limousin.

The Grand Tinel (Banquet Hall) is about 41m (135 ft.) long and 9m (30 ft.) wide, and the pope's table stood on the southern side. The pope's bedroom is on the first floor of the Tour des Anges. Its walls are entirely decorated in tempera with foliage on which birds and squirrels perch; birdcages are painted in the recesses of the windows.

The Studium (Stag Room), the study of Clement VI, was frescoed in 1343 with hunting scenes. Added under the same Clement, who had a taste for grandeur, the Grande Audience (Great Audience Hall) contains frescoes of the prophets; these are also attributed to Giovanetti and were painted in 1352.

Holly Hayes
November 19, 2011


The Palais des Papes was built in two distinct phases, known as the Palais Vieux (Old Palace) and Palais Neuf (New Palace). By the time of its completion, it occupied an area of 2.6 acres. The construction project was enormously expensive, consuming much of the papacy's income during its construction.

The Palais Vieux was commissioned by Pope Benedict XII and designed by the architect Pierre Poisson of Mirepoix. The austere pope had the old episcopal palace razed and replaced with a much larger building centred on a cloister, heavily fortified against attackers. Its four wings are flanked with high towers.

Under Popes Clement VI, Innocent VI and Urban V, the building was expanded to form what is now known as the Palais Neuf. Jean de Louvres was commissioned by Clement VI to build a new tower and adjoining buildings, including a 52m-long Grand Chapel to serve as the location for papal acts of worship.

Two more towers were built under Innocent VI, and Urban V completed the main courtyard (known as the Court d'Honneur) with further buildings enclosing it.

Holly Hayes
November 19, 2011

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