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.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.