Medieval Fortress Celebrates Anniversary Of Unesco Heritage Status With Swiss Art Installation

How To Paint Your Fortress

A citadel in the south of France gets a makeover that's anything but middle-of-the-road.

The Cité de Carcassonne, a centuries-old fortress in southern France, about an hour's drive from Toulouse, is a marvel of medieval architecture, boasting 53 towers, nearly two miles of outer walls, and — as of this spring — 15 precisely applied bands of bright yellow paint. Those bands constitute "Concentric, eccentric," an installation by the Swiss artist Felice Varini.

UP CLOSE James D. Morgan/Getty Images UP CLOSE Varini, who has executed similiar large-scale, illusionistic projects in Paris and London, was commissioned by the Centre des monuments nationaux to mark the 20th anniversary of Carcassonne's being named a UNESCO World Heritage site. BROAD STROKES James D. Morgan/Getty Images BROAD STROKES According to UNESCO, Carcassonne is not only "an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town," but "also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken [in the 19th century] by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation."

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THE VIEW FROM TOWN James D. Morgan/Getty Images THE VIEW FROM TOWN Some admire Varini's design; others despise it. In May, the Telegraph reported that nearly 2,000 locals had signed a petition calling for its removal. STRIPES James D. Morgan/Getty Images STRIPES For now, though, the installation isn't going anywhere: It's scheduled to remain in place through the summer. The fortress, for its part, should be around considerably longer. CURVES AHEAD James D. Morgan/Getty Images CURVES AHEAD TUNNEL VISION James D. Morgan/Getty Images TUNNEL VISION

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