Built on the site of the former fortified château of the kings of Navarre, the Citadel looks over the walled town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
The capital of the Basse-Navarre and an important crossing route over the Pyrenees, Saint Jean Pied de Port, was founded at the end of the 12th century under the reign of the last kings of Navarre to protect the course of the river and access to the Roncevaux and Bentarte passes. Built on the site of the former fortified château of the kings of Navarre, the Citadel, which has recently been restored, looks over the walled town. It is a fine example of the defensive system of 'Vauban-style' fortifications, with a glacis, moats, walls flanked by bastions with arrow loops, firearms, swing bridges, draw bridges and portcullis.
Constructed by Chevalier Deville in 1628 under the reign of Richelieu, during a time of religious wars and Franco-Spanish conflicts, it was later modified by Vauban. Vauban improved the defensive system, which consisted of four bastions, and planned outlying forts such as the redoubts, as well as the fortification of the whole of the town - only the first part of the project would be carried out. It is accessed by a ramp. In the western demi-lune there is a view over the town and the Cize basin. Around the internal courtyard and against the ramparts constructed above the underground vaulted casemates, are huddled the barracks, the governor's quarters and chapel, the powder stores and the well.
It was from this military position that in 1793 and 1794 all the expeditions against Spain were carried out, during which the Volunteers and later, the 10 companies of Basque Chasseurs distinguished themselves under the command of the would-be Marshal Harispe. In 1814, the Citadel did not succumb under pressure from Anglo-Hispanic-Portuguese troops and the war ended before it surrendered.
During the 1914-18 war, German prisoners and French disciplinarians were held there. The premises would be used as a barracks until 1923.Between 1936 and 1939, having become council property, the Citadel accommodated 500 Basque refugee children fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. The fortress is now home to a secondary education college.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.