Military architecture

home - architecture - civilian architecture - citadel - citadel (suit)

The fortifications and the citadel

The Port-Louis walls have a national fame and display a significant example of defensive measures former to Vauban's system.

These defences are distributed into three noticeable places :
  • the citadel
  • the walls of the city
  • the logistical buildings
The citadel

Nowadays, it presents a particularly impressive outside appearance and the successive restorations (the round tiles on the roof of the half-moon gate,the rebuilding of the watch-towers, the bastion granite dressing) take part in the underlining of the beauty of the lines and volumes of the citadel.
Built by the Spanish at the end of the XVIth century, known by the name of "Fuerte del Aguila", half-pulled down at the beginning of the XVIIth century, then completed and finally achieved in 1642, it became the extreme point of the defensive system locking the harbour and the city with walls

rempartsThe Ramparts (the walls of the city)

In the middle of the 17th century, a fortified wall was built. It surrounded the peninsula, on approximately 40 hectares (one third was the city). This wall was constituted of 3 different parts :- The sea-front with bastion-curtains and hollow towers connected by watch-ways. The sea and the rocks forbidding an attack on this side.

- The Port where the existing houses along the Rue de la Pointe have been included into the wall for saving money, being used as ramparts.
- The land-front, on the isthmus, including a bastion and two half bastions, strenghtened by large platforms. The big city portal was orientated south of the bastion so that it can't be seen by the ennemy artillery.

During the following century, the city access was protected as well as the villages behind the walls and the: the Driasker and the "Avancée" in Locmalo. The houses along the "rue de la Pointe" were destroyed later on to build real ramparts on the other side of the port. But mainly because of the improvement of weapons and technics, a large part of the fortifications were abandonned by the army towards the end of the 19th century.
The wall in the "Rue de la Pointe" was lowered to make a promenade. The land-front, bought by the town has been destroyed in order to build new houses.

The whole sea-front, in the south, between the Citadel and the Papegaut bastion remained nearly the same and it is still spectacular.

The logistical buildings

These buildings are the two powder magazines situated inside the south sea front: one nearly at the level of the Nesmond Tower, the smaller one next to the Papegaut Bastion.

The large powder magazine of 1750 is a beautiful building because of its structure and architecture. Its surroundings are the Recollets Hospital, the washhouse and the fountain, which create a general unity worth visiting.
The large powder-magazine the small powder-magazine
the large powder-magazine - 1750
the small customs powder-magazine - 1817
the artillery park bastion du papegault
the artillery park- 1847- the town granted to the War Department an 854 m2 place assigned to the stock of cannon balls. the Papegaut Bastion, which is the ultimate element remaining from the east defense, on the isthmus

The papegaut shooting.
A very popular public rejoicing, which lasted about two centuries, from 1575 to 1770, was the papegaut shooting. It took place every year on the frst Sunday of May. King Henri IIIrd had granted the papegaut privilege itself on the Blavet inhabitants by his letters of April 1575 and May 1577. The papegaut was a wooden parrot fixed on top of a mast and the thing was to knock it down by a harquebus shot. The shooter who achieved the feat received the official title of "the king" and was allowed "to bring, sell or put for sale and portion out" in Blavet twenty barrels "of wine from such vintage and country he would deal taxes-free." It was the Brittany Chamber of Accounts that cut this grant down to twenty barrels. Henri III rd, two times, had fixed it to thirty-six barrels.On May 7th 1770, King Louis XVth abolished this old institution, considered out-of-date, and "for the inhabitants, a subject of expense, dissipation and disturbance, an opportunity for quarrels, trials and fatal accidents".The benefit of the papegaut grant was then used for supporting the foundlings in the Hospital.
last modification : 05 26 2005