This 17th century masterpiece of military architecture by Vauban has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2008.
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Vauban and the Citadel at Besançon
This 17th century masterpiece of military architecture by Vauban has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2008. Perched 100 metres above the old quarter of the capital of Franche Comté within an oxbow of the River Doubs, it has spectacular views from its ramparts.
Today the impressive, majestic Citadel is a major cultural and tourist attraction, housing no less than 3 national museums : a natural history museum with a zoo, children’s farm, aquarium, insectarium and noctarium, a museum of traditional life in Franche Comté and a museum devoted to the Resistance and deportation.
Vauban made the plans for the Besançon Citadel in 1668 but in that same year the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle gave back Franche-Comté to Spain. It was not until 1674 that the French army, headed by Vauban himself, conquered the province once and for all.
Starting in 1674 and over a period of 30 years, Vauban modified and completed building work on the citadel begun by the Spanish and fortified the town.
The Citadel, a formidable stronghold on the top of the hill served in turn as a barracks, state prison, prisoner-of-war camp and military depot.
The darkest part of its history was during the Second World War : 100 members of the Resistance in total were executed by firing squad there and in 1944 it became an internment camp for thousands of German POWs.