Port-Louis Citadel

Sauvetage en mer. Source : Photo A.Fux, Musée national de la Marine, Port-Louis.

The Port-Louis Citadel, the National Maritime Museum and the history of the Indies Company.

This heavily-fortified rectangular Citadel is a flagship example of military architecture, and has an extraordinary view of the harbour. The Port-Louis Citadel is now home to the National Maritime Museum, where you will find an excellent collection of model ships, weapons and other historic models. You can also visit the museum dedicated to the history of the Indies Company. In the Arsenal Room, there are displays of superb vintage models, as well as paintings and sculptures depicting French naval history from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. The Powder Keg Room houses a large collection of weapons.

The construction of the Citadel began under the orders of the Spanish engineer Cristobal de Rojas in 1590 at the time of the war of the Catholic Holy League. The Citadel, which was completed during the reign of the French king Louis XIII, is strategically positioned on the southeastern point of the peninsula of Lorient harbour. Apart from serving a defensive role, the Citadel was also inhabited and used for receptions, as well as serving as a refuge or prison (it was a shelter for refractory priests during the French Revolution, refractory conscripts under the Empire, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1836, Communards, members of the Resistance and many others).
June 2002 saw the inauguration of various new exhibition rooms dedicated to underwater archaeology, the discovery of new artefacts, and the restoration of these artefacts. The archaeologist Franck Goddio donated over 160 artefacts to the National Maritime Museum, all related to the period of West-East trade between the eleventh and the seventeenth centuries and found in the wrecks of three junks, a galleon and a naval vessel. These artefacts are on display at Port-Louis, along with the remains of the cargo of the Mauritius, a Dutch ship that sank in 1609 (discovered during excavation by the Department of Underwater and Undersea Archaeological Research in 1986) offered by Elf-Gabon and the Gabonese government to the National Maritime Museum. The new 'Ocean Treasures' exhibition was created by the National Maritime Museum in association with the Regional Council of Brittany, the Morbihan Departmental Committee for Tourism and the Pays de Lorient Urban Community.
Tourist Information: 47, grande Rue, 56290 Port-Louis. Telephone: (+33) 2 97 82 52 93 Museum: Telephone: (+33) 2 97 12 10 37/Fax: (+33) 2 97 82 17 28 Closed: the 1st of December - the 1st of January (inclusive). Museum open from the 1st of April to the 30th of September, from 10h-18.30h (except on Tuesdays in April and May, and the 1st of May). From the 1st of October to the 31st of March: From 13.30h-18h (except on Tuesdays).

  • Entrance to the Citadel. Source: DMPA Régis Hidalgo

  • The canons at the Citadel. Source: DMPA Régis Hidalgo 

  • Ancient map of the Port-Louis Citadel. Photo: SHAT 

  • Aerial view of the Citadel at Port-Louis. Photo: ECPAd. 

  • Port-Louis. Source: DMPA Régis Hidalgo