Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Pope's Palace, Avignon

One of the main attractions in Avignon, aside from all the soap, lavender, and cicada markets, is the Pope's Palace, built after Clement V escaped the violence in Rome in 1309.  The Palace is another of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites we kept running into.  [Gosh, do you think the UMC columns might qualify eventually?]

We had about an hour there, this time with the hand-held audio players, which would spew out information once you key in the right exhibit number.  It seemed like most of the group ran through pretty fast, while I was still standing in front of the models, trying to absorb the history of each pope, and the politics of the era.
One model of the complete structure had a number of buttons that would each light up a labeled section of the palace.  Fun stuff, though I mostly wanted to take home a model and run a D&D campaign based on the structure.  I didn't quite get all the politics sorted out, but I did like the hidden chambers in the lower treasury, where the "mad money" gold plate and extra diamonds would have been stored.  And the bits of recovered tile and stained glass, with their not-machine drawings, urged me to come home and recreate a whole industry, perhaps adding a few panes to T.O.'s office.
The winding stairs seemed meant for intrigue and assassins...
The fireplaces and kitchens were enormous.  One audio clip droned on for a full 2 minutes listing off the food supplies required in one exuberant year at the palace--all rather meat-heavy, ideal, I guess, for an Atkins-heart-attack diet.

The courtyard would have suited any number of Medieval activities, the hostage princess, the troubadours singing, the guards practicing with swords, though I have no idea if the secular world got to so use this space.
And of course, a few remaining tapestries, wall paintings, and my favorite tomb, no doubt to honor the dog:
And arches--hard to describe the scale of this palace.  Not efficient to heat, but perhaps that was not the main concern.
And there was a contemporary art exhibit in some of the lower chambers.  I didn't have time for much of that, the bus being outside the city walls, and my 5:15 deadline approaching.  But I had to stop when a bit of my favorite Japanese poet popped out from a wall--

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