Friday, August 08, 2008
Aigues-Mortes in the Camargue rivals Carcassonne - if somewhat less spectacular being in a flat swamp rather than on top of a dramatic hill..
The 13th century town wall is virtually intact forming a rectangle about 0.5 km square around the old town. It was originally built to protect the port which was then the Kingdom of France's only Mediterranean port. But after a hundred years or so, the port silted up & territorial gain gave the King a better port in Marseilles, so the place became a backwater (as it is named...Aigues-Mortes = dead water). It was still the only fortification in the whole area - presumably the only place where stones didn't sink into the swamp, so it was maintained as a garrison town and/or prison unit the 19th century. The place was such a backwater that using it as a quarry wasn't necessary so it survived pretty well intact until it's worth was appreciated. It hard to tell how much is restoration, but very much less than Carcassonne and what they have done is more authentic.