Perched on a rocky outcrop, this islet had been inhabited since the 2nd century AD. The fortified castle, built in the Merovingian period, and the estate was to have countless occupants before coming under state ownership during the French Revolution.

The fort was built in the 13th century and was used for military purposes for most of its life, belonging to a variety of noble families as they fell in and out of power throughout the centuries. The fort was besieged several times and used as a place to escape; Queen Jeanne Ire stayed in 1348 after fleeing Naples, which had been invaded by her cousin – she used it as a pit-stop on her way to taking refuge in Marseille. The fort wasn’t badly affected by the French Revolution, although a few items were plundered by locals.

Napoleon took a liking to the fort and stayed here during the winter of 1793-94. When he became Emperor, he supplied funds to build up the garrison. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the War Ministry allocated money to build an artillery, although they didn’t do much to the outside of the main structure, which was slowly falling into disrepair. It was occupied by a small garrison during World War I until it was finally decommissioned in 1919.

In 1968, General de Gaulle transformed it into one of the official residences of the President of the Republic. The monument houses numerous gifts received by heads of state during France's Fifth Republic.

The Fort de Brégançon served as the official retreat of the President of France until 2013.

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paul Border (7 months ago)
fort on island - interesting
Isabelle Niclot (9 months ago)
Nice surrounding...must go sailing to really enjoy
Hans Christian Jul Sørensen (2 years ago)
One more star if there was an English speaking guide.
PlainAlexable (3 years ago)
So we get there at the gate. What we have to pay for parking!? What we have to buy a ticket to just get to the Fort!? What we can't buy the tickets there at the location!? So I was bit frustrated and was not the coolest guy to be around. However we were able to purchase the tickets online before the next tour. This is when I started to feel bad for my attitude toward the staff and started enjoying the beautiful scenery of both the location and smiles. Marie the tour guide was the most wonderful and charismatic person. Enthused about Fort de Bregancon she captivated both the crowd and me to the point where I stopped listening and started wondering if she was single.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.