Fort La Garde

Le Fort de La Garde. Source : http://pratsdemollolapresta.blogspot.fr/

This fort, partially built by Vauban, overlooks the fortified town of Prats-de-Mollo in the Pyrénées-orientales

The principles of the bastioned fortification were perfectly suited to this site. It houses the fortress’ living museum. Fort La Garde, inside the town of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste, is situated 60 kilometres from Perpignan and 13 kilometres from the Spanish border.

Fort La Garde

 

The place became a border town following the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) when Vallespir, Roussillon, Conflent-Capcir and part of Cerdagne were annexed to the Kingdom of France.  At the time the fortress housed some one hundred soldiers. During the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678), the threat from Spain prompted the King of France to reinforce the strategic site. The keep was thus built in 1677 around an ancient medieval signal tower in order to keep watch over the inhabitants following the uprising of the Angelets de la Terra or ‘angels of the land’ (between 1663 and 1672, some of the population of Vallespir and Conflent revolted against the gabelle, the salt tax).

 

After the Franco-Dutch War, Louis XIV decided to send military reinforcements to the eastern border with Spain. Seven fortified towns were concerned including Prats-de-Molla. He commissioned Vauban for the job. In 1686, after a trip to Roussillon in 1679, he enlarged the keep and built Le Pâté à Comète (an old château with a star-shaped surrounding wall) and the main courtyard or the ‘place of arms’. The original plans also included the reconstruction of the town’s ramparts destroyed during the Revolt of the Angelets. In 1691, the engineer Rousselot, in charge of the fortified towns in Roussillon, drew up plans for an extension, supported by Vauban. The war was temporarily interrupted by the works which, while resumed during the second half of the 18th century, were never completed.


The monument is characteristic of the bastioned fortification and was adjusted to the terrain. On the southern face, there are two lines of defence in front of the keep: the countergard and the ensemble formed by the bray, the Sainte-Marguerite redan (salient) and the right-hand ledge. The northern and eastern flanks are bordered by ravines. The western flank, which was more vulnerable to attack, was protected by a complex defence system and reinforced by a place of arms and a corridor known as a "Muhammad's tomb", a construction whose shape resembled a Muslim grave.


The materials used during the construction included granite from the Costabonne Massif, schist and brick. Military escape routes were also incorporated. This consisted of a passage starting in the place with 142 steps leading underground, dating from the 18th century, ending at a redoubt with arch machicolations, the “square tower”. A covered way, between the town and the redoubt, completed this passage that gave soldiers stationed in the town a way to enter the fort in the event of attack. The last military improvements were made in the 19th century.

 

Classified as a historic monument in 1925, the site was acquired by the local municipality in 1976.

 


Musée Vauban: the living museum at the fortress

 

Today, the fort houses a museum dedicated to fortifications and military history, including the different corps of the army, armements and daily life in the 18th century. Since 1996, the visit has also included live performances. The guided tour is punctuated by reenactments that portray military training in the 18th century. Visitors are treated to stunts, demonstrations and fighting during the 90 minute tour.

 


Fort Lagarde in Prats-de-Mollo

 

Tourist Information Office

Place le Foiral 66230 Prats de Mollo la Preste France

Tel: +33 4 68 39 70 83

Fax: +33 4 68 39 74 51

E-mail: contact@pratsdemollolapreste.com

 

 

Office de tourisme de Prats de Mollo la Preste

 

 

 

  • Fortified passage near the church. Source: http://jeantosti.com/visiterphot/prats/fort.jpg

  • Model of Fort Lagarde. Source: http://jac.dewailly.free.fr/plan_du_site.htm
  • Plan by Vauban. Source: www.ra.se
  • View of the fort entrance. Source: http://jac.dewailly.free.fr/plan_du_site.htm
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    Practical information

    Address

    66230
    Prats de Mollo la Preste
    Tel : +33 4 68 39 70 83Fax : +33 4 68 39 74 51

    Weekly opening hours

    Ouvert du mardi au dimanche : de 14h à 18h.