Citadel of Bitche

Bitche, France

Bitche is known for its large citadel originating from a castle built at the beginning of the 13th century.

The citadel, which had been constructed by Vauban on the site of the old castle after the capture of Bitche by the French in 1624, had been destroyed when it was restored to Lorraine in 1698. This was restored and strengthened in 1740 into a fortress that proved impregnable up until the 20th century. The attack upon it by the Prussians in 1793 was repulsed.

During the Napoleonic Wars, 1804-14, the citadel at Bitche became a major prisoner of war camp housing British and allied soldiers and sailors. It was also used in this context as a penal camp, housing repeated escapers and recalcitrant prisoners.

The fortress is noted for its resistance during the Franco-Prussian War. Louis-Casimir Teyssier, its commander and chief, held the place for about eight months with 3,000 men against about 20,000 Prussian and Bavarian soldiers until the French government ordered him to surrender after the ceasefire in 1871. The town became part of Germany after that date until the end of the First World War, when it was given back to France. During the Second World War it was annexed by the Third German Reich (1940–1944).

Citadel of Bitche is a perfect example of military fortification from the 17th and 18th centuries with its singular design and advanced techniques. A large screen cinema in the underground galleries shows extracts from The Besieged Fortress.

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Founded: 17th-18th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sheila Rosenthal (15 months ago)
A staggering piece of work with huge stone and earthworks now eroded by sheep. Majestic views of a lovely typically French town. You have to wonder at how it was built, not minimum wage pay for sure!
Sharon Anna (16 months ago)
Instead of entering the castle we walked a long the wall since it was free. It was such a nice walk. There were some sheep walking around and there are benches to sit and admire the view.
Wanda G (16 months ago)
This is worth taking time to visit. You receive a headset for listening to a video on your tour. You walk through the fortress on your own and can take your time.
LeAnn Lemmons (19 months ago)
Very impressive looking up from below, and walking around outside the Citadel. Beautiful areas to get great sunset pictures. It is massive when you enter, and you can take a tour of the underground rooms. It was a nice!
Rob (3 years ago)
Great place to visit. Audio-guided tour available. The placed is steeped in history, which is explained using the story of a soldier This story is presented as a succession of film-fragments during the 'underground tour' that guides you through the catacombs of the citadel (as it's fairly dark and the fragments contain re-enacted war scenes, it's not recommended for young children). Be sure not to miss the underground tour!
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