The Popes’ residence in Avignon
From 1273 onwards, the popes fled Rome because they could no longer be safe, free, and independent there. In 1309, Clement V settled in Avignon, a papal land. The city occupies a central position in relation to the Christian world of the time and is conducive to trade. In addition, the Saint-Bénézet bridge is a crossing point to reach Spain, Provence, and Italy.
Clement V was the first pope to settle in this city, which is home to 5,000 souls, making it an important city in the Middle Ages. He then stayed in the Dominican convent of the Friars Preachers. Under the pontificate of Clement V, Avignon became the official residence of part of the Sacred College of Cardinals. After the death of the pope, the bishop of the city was elected and took up the torch. John XXII decided to settle in the episcopal palace he had long occupied, located in a district of the city that was easy to defend. The place became the current site of the Palais des Papes.
After the death of John XXII, Benedict XII was crowned Pope in 1335. He judged the Bishop’s Palace of his predecessor too small and decided to demolish it in order to build a new palace designed by the architect Pierre Obreri.