he former pontifical gardens lie at the base of the eastern façade of the apostolic Palace. These gardens were an important part of papal life and the popes continually developed, enlarged and maintained them.
The upper garden, known as the Benedict XII garden, is surrounded by thick walls on all sides. During the residency of the popes in Avignon, this was a vegetable garden planted with spinach, cabbages, chard and parsleys. Medicinal plants and aromatic herbs were also grown – oregano, sage, fennel … Vines were trained on trellises, and roses were grown for their flowers.
The popes also had a menagerie in these gardens, holding animals such as lions, wild boar and stag, and many birds.