I'm not going to go into the history of the Catholic papacy here, but there was a time when the popes did not live in Rome, but instead at Avignon, in Southern France. During some of the time they were here, there was another pope in Rome. And even once, a third pope was crowned to try to unite the church once again under one man. That didn't work out so well.
The place is worth a tour (€10.50 if you're over 60, including entrance to the Bridge of Avignon.) Unfortunately, since the palace was used for, among other things, a military barracks after being abandoned by the popes, almost none of the original decoration survives. Which is really unfortunate, because that which does remain is lovely. They don't allow photos of the frescoes, however, so none of them here.
Except this one of the prophets, which is very nice, and in a huge hall where only it remains on the ceiling.
At any rate, there are lots of places you can read about what went on in the 14th Century, including, of course, Wikipedia.
When we first arrived in Avignon, I spent a bit of time walking around trying to figure out how to get a good shot of the Palace of the Popes and the famous bridge. I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to do some climbing on the city walls, which were blocked off to me, or somehow figure how to get out on the river. Of course, all this thinking was going on before we actually got onto the Viking river cruise boat where we're going to spend the next several days.
We visited Avignon for two days as part of a cruise of the Rhone River in southern France, with Viking River Cruises.
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