Brest

Panorama du château de Brest. Source : Photo S. Déniel, Licence Creative Commons.

Brest Castle...

Built on a rocky outcrop, Brest Castle dominates the Penfeld River and the harbour. It stands on a major strategic site whose importance as such was recognised as early as the 3rd century, when the Romans set up base there to protect the province of Armorique from Frankish and Saxon pirates.

In the twelfth century, the counts of Léon restored the old bases left by the Romans and a small town surrounding a chapel was established within its walls, a town that grew into the Brest we know today! During the Hundred Years' War, the castle was occupied by the English and besieged by Duguesclin. Anne of Brittany also stayed there in 1505 during a pilgrimage. In the seventeenth century, under pressure from Richelieu and Colbert for Brest to become the French Royal Navy's major arsenal on the Atlantic coast, it was decided that the castle's defences needed to be improved. The architect Vauban then transformed it into a veritable citadel, and the town grew below it. In a town that had to be almost entirely rebuilt after the fierce raids of 1944, the castle is the last remaining testimony to centuries past.
The Castle has been constantly adapted to changes in siege tactics and weaponry. It needed to be able to resist two types of attack: those from the sea, but mostly those from the land. Consequently, its architecture is complex and additions were frequently made to it over time. Parts of the Roman walls are still visible, and the Paradis Towers have preserved their medieval character (pepper-box roofs and machicolation). But in its current state, the castle remains characteristic of the defensive fortification architecture developed by Vauban, in particular to respond to the use of siege artillery. For seventeen centuries, from Roman encampment to its role as a naval base, the destiny of the Castle has been linked to the sea, the history of a town, a province and an entire country.
There has been a small museum in the arsenal since the beginning of the nineteenth century: a room devoted to models is home to many sculptures and historic model ships. Fortunately, these collections were stowed away during World War II and thus spared. They now form part of the National Maritime Museum network in Brest, Port-Louis, Rochefort, Toulon and Paris. In 1958, a new museum was established in the castle, the museum that is today visited by the public. Not to be missed are the masterpieces of maritime heritage and culture, the naval history of Brest, the castle's historic rooms and the exceptional views of the harbour and the Penfeld River.
The dungeon houses permanent collections devoted to the golden era of naval construction, as well as the penal system, weapons and scientific instruments. The temporary exhibitions (photos, paintings, case studies) are presented in the Paradis Towers, while the Madeleine Tower displays more modern naval history. Visitors can also see the S622 submarine, an example of a Seehund pocket submarine, and a boat-people vessel.
The Museum offers a series of themed tours for children at the entrance. For its temporary exhibitions, the Museum proposes a discovery tour for children. Booklets on a certain theme and questionnaires designed for children aged 8 and over are available for visitors not part of an organised tour ("Tonnerre de Brest!" a visit questionnaire based on the collections on display at Brest Castle; "Au vent de Suroît" a visit questionnaire based on the history of Brest Castle Museum) For youngsters and adults: - Guided tours all year round for groups on appointment. During the summer months, individual visitors can also follow a guided commentary at fixed times. - Greeting and training for teachers Entry is free for any teachers wishing to prepare a class trip to the Museum.
Musée National de la Marine Château de Brest 29200 Brest Tél. : 02.98.22.12.39 Fax: 02.98.43.30.54 E-Mail: [email = brest@musee-marine.fr] brest@musee-marine.fr [/ email]

> Return to results

Practical information

Address

Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 29000
Brest
02 98 22 12 39

Prices

Plein tarif: 5,50 € Tarif réduit: 4 € Gratuit : Moins de 26 ans, personnel militaire et civil de la Défense, chômeurs, handicapés

Weekly opening hours

Avril-septembre: 10h-18h30 Octobre-mars : tous les jours, sauf le 25/12 et janvier,13h30-18h30

Fermetures annuelles

Fermé le 1er mai