Occitans - Settlements



Occitanie is largely rural in orientation and in organization, although it encompasses important urban centers, the earliest being the Greek-established port city of Marseilles. The historically predominant settlement was the agricultural Village, oriented toward meeting the needs of the large estate-farms (latifundia) common to the region. The oldest quarters of today's villages are commonly found on a hillside, at the peak of which may be found the ruins of the "chateau" that once provided the local economic focus for the village. Distinctive of the houses of this old quarter are their red-tiled roofs and their elevated, or "perched," location on the hillside. In much of Occitanie, these old quarters are in ruins, as are the chateaus around which they are clustered. Cities and villages were frequently walled, although the walls are now usually in ruins as well. The larger villages are also oriented around public squares, the site of weekly markets that are still held today and that have been held for perhaps 800 years.


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