Built on marshy land on the Left Bank of the Gironde, opposite Fort Pâté, Fort Médoc was a key part of Vauban's three-point defence system. Its purpose was to block the passage of ships between Île Pâté and Cussac in the Médoc. Fort Médoc was built in 1689-1690 on low-lying terrain with alluvial soil. The artillery battery was pointed towards Blaye and most of the structure was taken up to house it.
In order to keep the fort from being captured by soldiers disembarking from the estuary, it was necessary to build a structure able to resist such an attack. The square-shaped fort, oriented perpendicularly to the riverbank, consisted of four bastions linked by curtain walls. A demilune protected the imposing Porte Royale on the side furthest from the estuary. This vast entity was in turn protected by a covered walkway, a preliminary moat, and a main moat able to be filled with water by locks.
Two rows of barracks were built inside the square as well as a building to house the Major, a chapel, a bakery, and a gunpowder storage area. The barracks could accommodate 300 soldiers. However, the military role of Fort Médoc turned out to be rather negligible in the course of its history. In fact, it was never attacked. In 1716, thirteen 6 and 8 pound cannons and a rather limited number of cannonballs were nevertheless waiting. By 1789, only a few soldiers, mostly disabled veterans, and three old cannons attested to the fort's military vocation.
After periods of virtual abandon, followed by a renovation, the site was decommissioned by the army in 1916. It became the property of the commune of Cussac in 1930. This part of Vauban's project, executed by the architect Duplessy, is typical of fortifications designed by the French military strategist.
With the citadel of Blaye, its city walls and the Fort Paté, the Fort Médoc was listed in 2008 as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of the 'Fortifications of Vauban' group.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.