Carcassonne’s old walled town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known in French as the Cité de Carcassone while the more expansive ‘new’ town around the base of the hill is the Ville Basse. The castle-village is also spelled Carcasson, Carcasonne.
The first serious defensive fortifications on the hilltop appeared in 100 BC, courtesy of the Romans, and various improvements were made by various rulers over the years, though the dramatic outer ramparts and the ‘new’ town were started by France’s Louis IX in the 13th century.
This city was generally considered impregnable until modern weapons appeared but was in fact captured during a religious crusade by the cruel, devious and bloody Brit, Simon de Montfort, on behalf of the King of France, Philippe Augustus, in 1209.
It has been thoroughly restored; work began in 1853.
Carcassonne’s summer crowds beside the main (cost free) entry point, across a drawbridge and moat, see map below, Entrée Cité.