The French Castel Gandolfo
Today, there is only the keep, the south wall and a basement room, the Pontifical Cellar. A symbol of the village, the Château is the prestigious setting for receptions in the town and meeting for the Echansonnerie des Papes, the wine brotherhood in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Château des Papes was built on the orders of Pope John XXII from 1317 to 1333. Due to its size and strategic position, the Château had a defensive role, but was also a summer residence, which led to an ornamental garden and a park with vines and olive trees being created.
Nicknamed the French Castel Gandolfo, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the summer residence of the Avignon Popes. The Château consisted of an imposing main building, four towers and three large rooms: a basement or pontifical cellar. With its cool temperature, the room was used to keep wine, oil and salted meat. There was also a large room on the first floor, the state room, where all the festivities took place (papal banquets, receptions, etc.), while on the second floor were the Pope’s private apartments. When the papacy returned to Rome, in the early 15th century, the Château was more or less abandoned because the Bishops lacked the funds to maintain it. Over the following centuries, the Château underwent a range of vicissitudes, particularly during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century.
The Château was attacked and was used by the Protestants as a base camp when they looted Comtat Venaissin. Before leaving the village, they pillaged and burnt the Château. Listed as a Historic Monument in 1892, the Château suffered one last blow during the Second World War. The German garrisons occupied the village and set up an anti-aircraft observation post in the keep. Threatened with the arrival of the Allies, on 20 August 1944, the Germans blew up all the northern part of the Château.