In the 14th century, this city in the South of France was the seat of the papacy. The Palais des Papes, an austere-looking fortress lavishly decorated by Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti, dominates the city, 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 in 14th-century Christian Europe. Avignon
In 1309 the Frenchman Bertrand de Got, who had been elected and crowned Supreme Pontiff in 1305, refused to go to
Rome, choosing instead to install himself temporarily in the Dominican Convent at . Seven Popes were to reign there until the election of Martin v in 1417 and the return of the seat of the Papacy to Avignon . Rome
Clement's successor, John XXII (1316-34), moved to the former bishop's palace, which ne converted into a
, on the Rocher des Doms, alongside the cathedral. Benedict XII (1334-42) gradually demolished this building and replaced it with what is now known as the Old Palace, covering the northern part of the present monument, a structure that took the master-builder Pierre Poisson eighteen years to complete. It was Benedict's successor, Clement VI (1342-52), who was to complete the ensemble, under the direction of Jean de Louvres, who brought with him from the Papal Palace the high Gothic style than prevailing there. Clement entrusted the interior decoration to the famous Italian Painter Matteo Giovannetti from Viterbo, who worked on the Chapels of St John and St Martial while waiting for the Ile-de-France to be completed. He also supervised the work of French and Italian Painters on other halls and rooms within the palace. New Palace
Avignon had been sold to Clement VI in 1348 by Queen Joan of Naples and Sicily, and it was to remain the residence of the Italian Papal legates for nearly four hundred years after the Papacy had returned to Rome, until they were expelled at the time of the Revolution, when the people of Avignon, which had benefited markedly from its long association with the Papacy, opted to join France. In 1793 the Convention decided to demolish this "Bastille du Midi," but the massive building defied their efforts. It passed to the ownership of the town in 1810,and eight years later was put at the disposal of the Minister of war, Who used it as a barracks until 1906, when it was returned to the town.