We discovered Jardin du Calvaire (Calvary Garden) located inside one of Carcassonne’s three remaining bastions. The “Big Tower” (also called the Bastion les Moulins [Tower of the Mills]) was built after 1359 and was part of the walls and fortifications that used to surround the Bastide Saint-Louis (Ville Basse) of Carcassonne. Located on the Southwest corner of the city, the bastion was later covered with windmills in 1599 to power mills grinding grain into flour for bakeries that would supply the city with “300 breads everyday for the poor.”
In 1825 a group formed to create the Jardin du Calvaire within the bastion. The leader of the group was Canon Cazaintre who is now buried on the site. The garden’s design was created by architect Jean-François Champagne. Jardin du Calvaire is circled with “Station of the Cross” shrines on its perimeter, has cypress and olive trees and laurels, and impressive sculptures reenacting the crucifixion on Calvary Hill. The crucifixion tableau is shielded by trees and cannot been seen from the regular garden; the sculptures can only be viewed after climbing to the top of the small hill in the garden. There is a small chapel built into the hill that represents the Holy Sepulcher and is illuminated with natural light from the crucifixion scene above.
This urban garden is very peaceful with many benches along its paths. The restful quiet can make you forget that Jardin du Calvaire is situated alongside the major avenue of Boulevard Barbès.
One of Tracy’s favorite things about the garden are its numerous feral, but friendly cats cruising the garden and serving as unofficial “guardians” for the garden.