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Avignon Bridge Saint Benezet Skip the line ticket
Skip the line ticket for Avignon Bridge. 50% off on tablet rental
|Boulevard de la Ligne|
Legend has it that a young shepherd boy from the Ardêche, Bénezet – Little Benedict in the Provençal language – received a divine command to build a bridge in Avignon. It was, so it is said, thanks to his energy that the structure was completed between 1177 and 1185. However, the historical and archaeological facts tell a different tale altogether. The construction of the bridge began much later in fact, at the beginning of the 13th century. The first recorded evidence of the bridge describes the supports housing the relics of Bénezet – who had been elevated to the ranks of sainthood by popular demand. The bridge remained a permanent building site from the 13th to the 17th century because of violent flooding on the Rhône, owing to changes in the riverbed and climatic variations. Consequently, the bridge was more often than not a medley of stone sections and temporary wooden walkways connecting the arches. Its heyday was in the second half of the 14th century. The Popes in Avignon had turned Villeneuve-les-Avignon into a leisure resort and applied themselves to finishing and maintaining this bridge, made up at the time of 22 stone arches and stretching 900 m. However, the main purpose of the bridge was to control the highly lucrative north-south river traffic between the port of Arles – through which maritime shipping passed –and Lyon. In the Middle Ages, the landscape around the bridge was very different from what we now see, dotted with several islands with passages on either side. The pillars supporting the bridge were mostly built on shingle beds. The current shape of the river stabilised in the 19th century and guinguettes – open-air dance halls – were set up on the islands. But contrary to the lyrics of the song, whose tune dates from those times, it was not ON the bridge of Avignon but UNDER it that ‘they are dancing all around.’ All that remains of the bridge today is four arches and three chapels. Its reconstruction was abandoned once and for all in the mid-17th century. A visit to the bridge is made all the more interesting by the array of multimedia options: audioguides in 11 languages, videos and 3-D images, recounting the legend of Saint Bénezet, and the history of the construction of the bridge and its song.
Full price (in €)
|Full price : 5 € / Reduced price: 4 €|