One of the World's Most Amazing Fortresses Makes an Unforgettable Impression
Shown here on a collectible Worldwide Gifts fridge magnet, this image of Carcassonne is a wonderful souvenir from France. The Fortress of Carcassonne stands on a hill above the River Aude on a site that has been a fortified settlement since the original fortress walls were actually constructed by the Romans in around 100 BC, and they've been rebuilt and restored several times over the centuries. The Fortress of Carcassonne is actually a fortress within a fortress that all encloses a fortified castle.
The castle of Carcassonne, its 53 towers and the double ring of ramparts that surround it are an impressive sight, and one that visitors to this area near Toulouse must certainly enjoy during their vacation in France. Exploring the medieval city is a fascinating experience, with its ancient homes, the magnificent Basilica of Saint Nazaire, beautiful parks and museums. There's also an interesting legend to learn regarding how the city of Carcassonne gained its name.
The Legend of Princess Carcas and How She Saved the City
Legend has it that during the time of Charlmagne the fortress was held by a Saracen princess who, after a five year siege that had left the city living in starvation conditions, came up with a clever ruse to fool the besieging armies of Charlmagne into thinking that they had plenty of supplies to withstand the siege indefinitely. When Princess Carcas asked the Knights of the City to give her an accounting of how much food was left, they brought her the last pig and the last bag of wheat.
The princess instructed her knights to feed all the wheat the pig and fatten up, and then they tossed the pig over the city walls. The siege army saw them toss out a pig and decided that if they had so much food they could just throw a pig down to the would-be invaders, there was no point in continuing to try and make them surrender.
When Charlemagne's army rode away, the people celebrated by ringing bells all over the city. Hence: "Carcas sonne!" "Carcas rings!"