Longwy Fortress

Longwy, France

The original Longwy village developed on a widened plateau and was eventually linked to the Chiers valley, divided into two towns: Longwy-Haut (the Old Longwy) and Longwy-Bas (in the valley of the river). In the 15th century, the castle of Longwy was one of the most important in the region. It was partially destroyed in 1646 during the Thirty Years War, during which Longwy became French. The town and the castle all disappeared in 1672, razed to the ground by the French.

In 1678, after the combat in the war of Holland came to an end, Louis XIV decided to reinforce the border area to the north of Lorraine. The engineer Thomas de Choisy, a colleague of Vauban, was sent on site. Near to the fortress of Luxembourg, held by the Spanish, the Longwy site was deemed ideal by Choisy for the construction of a fortress. Accordingly, he occupied the extended plateau of Longwy by razing the remaining parts of the castle and the small pre-existing medieval town. A new fortified town, given the same name as the village, was constructed on the plateau.

Over the centuries that followed, the fortifications of Longwy were not significantly modified. The capture of Luxembourg between 1684 and 1698 meant it was downgraded to second line status, which prompted a slowdown in construction. Multiple buildings, including the town hall, were not completed until the 18th century. In 1731, the military bakery had a siege cistern fitted. The construction of the years 1790 and 1810-1820 was limited to repairing the damage caused by sieges of 1792 (by the Austrians) and 1814-1815 (by the victorious allies of Napoleon).

Two thirds of the protective wall, including the Porte de France, still stands. They are preserved and regularly maintained. The whole facility is today a freely accessible city park. An adventure park has also been added. The tourist office can arrange guided tours. The Governor’s residence is used as the town hall, while the Saint-Dagobert church is preserved. Its observatory lost a floor during the Prussian siege from 1870-1871. The well of 1739, the military bakery, the siege cistern as well as some barracks all survive, as the town planning map. The entire set has been included since 2008 on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the fortifications of Vauban.

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Founded: 1678
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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