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Aigues-Mortes

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Type of sights

Old town

 

Name and address

Aigues-Mortes

FR-30220 Aigues-Mortes

Geodetic coordinates

43.566446 4.191435

Communication

Medieval town walls of Aigues-Mortes
Medieval town walls of Aigues-Mortes
Tour de Constance in Aigues Mortes
Tour de Constance in Aigues Mortes
Medieval town walls of Aigues-Mortes
Medieval town walls of Aigues-Mortes
Aigues-Mortes
Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes (Occitan: Aigas Mòrtas,) is a French commune in the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.

In 791, Charlemagne erected the Matafère tower amid the swamps for the safety of fishermen and salt workers. Some argue that the signaling and transmission of news was not foreign to the building of this tower which was designed to give warning in case of arrival of a fleet, as for the Magne Tower at Nîmes.

The purpose of this tower was part of the war plan and spiritual plan which Charlemagne granted at the Benedictine abbey, dedicated to Opus Dei (work of God) and whose incessant chanting, day and night, was to designate the convent as Psalmody or Psalmodi. This monastery still existed in 812, as confirmed by an act of endowment made by the Badila from Nîmes at the abbey.

At that time, the people lived in reed huts and made their living from fishing, hunting, and salt production from several small salt marshes along the sea shore. The region was then under the rule of the monks from the Abbey of Psalmody.

In 1240, Louis IX, who wanted to get rid of the influence of the Italian navy for transporting troops to the Crusades, focused on the strategic position of his kingdom. Louis IX wanted direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. He obtained the town and the surrounding lands by exchange of properties with the monks of the abbey. Residents were exempt from the salt tax which was previously levied so that they can now take the salt unconstrained.

He built a road between the marshes and built the Carbonnière Tower to serve as a watchtower and protect access to the city. Saint-Louis then built the Constance Tower on the site of the old Matafère Tower, to house the garrison. In 1272, his son and successor, Philip_III_the_Bold, ordered the continuation of the construction of walls to completely encircle the small town. The work would not be completed for another 30 years.

This was the city from which Louis IX twice departed for the Crusades: the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and again for the Eighth Crusade in 1270 for Tunis where he died of dysentery.

There is a popular belief that the sea reached Aigues-Mortes in 1270. In fact, as confirmed by studies of the engineer Charles Leon Dombre, the whole port of Aigues-Mortes, including the port itself, was in the Marette pond, the Canal-Viel and Grau Louis, the Canal Viel being the access channel to the sea. The Grau-Louis was approximately at the modern location of La Grande-Motte.

At the beginning of 14th century, Philip the Fair used the fortified site to incarcerate the Templars. Between 8 and 11 November 1307, forty-five of them were put to the question, found guilty, and held prisoner in the Tower of Constance.

Historical sites

Aigues-Mortes has a very large number of sites registered as historical monuments. 

The Tower of Constance and the ramparts

The Tower of Constance  was built in 1242 by Saint-Louis on the former site of the Matafère Tower which was built by Charlemagne around 790AD to house the king’s garrison. The construction was completed in 1254.

It is 22 metres in diameter with a height of either 33 or 40 metres depending on the source. The thickness of the walls at the base is 6 metres.

The ramparts stretch for a distance of 1650 metres. Spectacular in their height and their state of preservation even though they were not restored in the 19th century, they remain in a well preserved state. Along with the Tower of Constance, they are a testimony to Western European military architecture in the marshlands during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Information about copyright

Rights characteristic / license

by-sa: CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-ShareAlike

Link to the description of the license

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Input taken over from:

Wikipedia contributors, 'Aigues-Mortes', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 January 2015, 14:47 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aigues-Mortes&oldid=643524318> [accessed 15 February 2015]

taken over / edited on

15 Feb 2015

taken over / edited by

biroto-Redaktion