Citadel of Blaye

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The citadel of Blaye, keystone of the defence device of La Gironde.

The Citadel of Blaye is one of the finest examples of 17th century military architecture. Started in 1652 by Pagan, it was extended, strengthened and completed by Vauban between 1685 and 1689. Designed to protect the port of Bordeaux, this complex seals off the Gironde at Blaye. On the right bank, it consists of a citadel comprising three successive fronts with orilloned bastions, a demi-lune and covered walkway, all of which are typical of Vauban's second system. On the Gironde side, a wall and batteries overlook a cliff that overhangs the river at a height of 45 metres. However, the range of artillery at the time was not capable of totally preventing ships from passing. Vauban therefore designed two other forts which allowed artillery cross-fire and the control of the Gironde.

  • The Citadel of Blaye overlooking the Gironde estuary. Source: Source: GNU Free Documentation Licence, free of copyright

  • The Citadel of Blaye overlooking the Gironde estuary. Source: Source: GNU Free Documentation Licence, free of copyright

Source: MINDEF/SGA/DMPA

On the left bank, the engineer Ferry built Fort Médoc, which was trapezoid in shape and had a very fine entrance gate. In the middle of the river, on a sand bank, he built a solid, low, round tower, Fort Paté, crowned with a parapet with embrasures and a gun terrace. The unstable nature of the ground made it necessary to set the tower on a double grill of wood, submerged for a year in the wet ground. Despite subsidence of 2 metres in 1707, the fort, which was consolidated in the 18th century, has remained intact.
The Citadel is still partly inhabited. Access is either on foot via the Porte Dauphine, or by car via the Porte Royale. Inside, there is the Museum of History and Art of the Blaye area. There is also the château des Rudel, a medieval triangular château where the troubadour Geoffroy Rudel, the lover of the "distant Princess" Melisande of Tripoli, was born. On the platform of the Tour des Rondes, an observatory offers a view across the town and over the Gironde estuary. From the Aiguillette Tower, you can also see the Gironde and all the little islands in it. Also worth seeing are the Place d'Armes where there is the Minimes Convent and the Pavillon de la Place, in which the Duchess of Berry was detained. A real little town within a town, the Citadel is on the list of Historic Monuments and today plays host to more than 200,000 visitors a year.
Tourist Information Office of the canton of Blaye Les allées marines 33390 Blaye Telephone: +33 (0) 5 57 42 12 09 fax: + 33 (0) 5 57 42 91 94 Mail: info@tourisme-blaye.com Opening and closing times The citadel is open every day all year round, with groups by appointment. Charges : Free entry

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