Besançon Fortress

Besançon, France

Besançon's Vauban citadel has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Louis XIV of France conquered the city for the first time in 1668, but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle returned it to Spain within a matter of months. While it was in French hands, the famed military engineer Vauban visited the city and drew up plans for its fortification. The Spaniards built the main centre point of the city's defences, 'la Citadelle', siting it on Mont Saint-Étienne, which closes the neck of the oxbow that is the site of the original town. In their construction, the Spaniards followed Vauban's designs.

In 1674, French troops recaptured the city, which the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678) then awarded to France. As a result of control passing to France, Vauban returned to working on the citadel's fortifications, and those of the city. This process lasted until 1711, some 30 years, and the walls built then surround the city. Between the train station and the central city there is a complex moat system that now serves road traffic. Numerous forts, some of which date back to that time and that incorporate Vauban's designs elements sit on the six hills that surround the city: Fort de Trois Châtels, Fort Chaudanne, Fort du Petit Chaudanne, Fort Griffon, Fort des Justices, Fort de Beauregard and Fort de Brégille. The citadel itself has two dry moats, with an outer and inner court. In the evenings, the illuminated Citadelle stands above the city as a landmark and a testament to Vauban's genius as a military engineer.

The Citadel is built on top of a large syncline on a rectangular field crossed across its width by three successive bastions (enclosures, or fronts) behind which extend three plazas. The whole is surrounded by walls covered by circular paths and punctuated by watchtowers and sentry posts. The walls are up to 15 to 20 metres high with a thickness between 5 and 6 metres.



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Founded: 1668-1711
Category: Castles and fortifications in France


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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User Reviews

Sandra I (12 months ago)
Absolutely beautiful view ✨ I paid €7.40 for two hours before closing. It was breathtaking. The animals are alright… but the view from the top makes the whole trip worth it! Also, the museums are interesting. I recommend!
Paul Richard (12 months ago)
Always a nice place to visit. We only walked around this time, didn't go in, but growing up in this area, I've been to Besançon's citadel many times and the museums and the park inside the fortress are worth a visit!
Io Lo (14 months ago)
Built, as it should be, on the top of a mountain, this citadel is an excellent example of military construction. Parking and bus stop is nearby. There are a couple of museums in the fortress, which, of course, I recommend visiting. There are also a couple of cafes to relax. Well, what especially surprised us and turned out to be very pleasant was the presence of a small zoo on the territory of the fortress. Here you can see tigers and lions and some other animals. And here there is a great opportunity to look from the fortress wall at the nearby surroundings. If you are in the city, be sure to visit this fortress.
Shabnam Fathima (2 years ago)
You get to see the whole city from the top with beautiful views and you will see few animals on the way before you reach the top
nik barbet (3 years ago)
Impressive citadel and fortress above besancon It’s worth paying the 10.90E entry fee to walk on the walls of the citadel and visit the ecological exhibitions and zoo within the walls. Unfortunately the resistance museum is closed until 2023, but a good reason to return
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