La citadelle de Blaye

The World Heritage List

Why are the fortifications of Vauban inscribed on the World Heritage List?

  • The fortifications of Vauban form the most rational example of military architecture and represent a masterpiece of human creative genius ;
  • They also bear testimony to the evolution of military architecture in the 17th century. They influenced the construction of a great number of strongholds throughout the world up to the end of the 19th century ;
  • These constructions can also be interpreted as the shaping of a modern space through the creation of a network of border sites, forerunners of our borders today.

The series of 12 sites represents Vauban’s genius and the outstanding universal value of his work. Each site illustrates a different facet of the engineer’s fortifications, thus forming a complete and perfect range of his work:

  • The evolution of his defensive designs ;
  • A complete geographical range with sites on the plain, on the coast and in the mountains ;
  • The type of work : new town, tower, fort, urban wall or citadel ;
  • The modification of pre-existing works or the creation of new fortresses.

What does inscription on the World Heritage List mean?

  • Significant renown and international exposure, through the recognition of the outstanding universal value of the property ;
  • A guarantee of high standards for the conservation, restoration, protection and enhancement of the heritage ;
  • Support and encouragement for the continuation of ongoing conservation and enhancement work on the ensemble of the 12 sites and their territories ;
  • The growing concern of local authorities to raise awareness about fortified heritage and to ensure that it is handed down to future generations ;
  • Setting up management plans for territorial projects concerning urbanism, culture, citizenship and tourism. These management plans guarantee high standards in terms of the conservation and enhancement of fortified heritage whilst integrating it into the framework of our modern towns.

Outstanding Universal Value of the Fortifications of Vauban

The work of Vauban constitutes a major contribution to universal military architecture. It crystallises earlier strategic theories into a rational system of fortifications based on a concrete relationship to territory. It bears witness to the evolution of European fortification in the 17th century and produced models used all over the world up to the mid-19th century, thereby illustrating a significant period of history.

Criterion (I): Vauban’s work bears witness to the peak of classic bastioned fortification, typical of western military architecture of modern times.

Criterion (II): Vauban played a major role in the history of fortification. The imitation of his standard-models of military buildings in Europe and on the American continent, the dissemination in Russian and Turkish of his theoretical thinking along with the use of the forms of his fortification as a model for fortresses in the Far East, bear witness to the universality of his work.

Criterion (IV): Vauban’s work illustrates a significant period of human history. It is a work of the mind applied to military strategy, architecture and construction, civil engineering, and economic and social organisation.

What is World Heritage?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) encourages the identification, protection and conservation of cultural and natural heritage throughout the world which is considered as having an outstanding value for humanity. This is the subject of an international treaty entitled “Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage” adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

For further information, please consult the World Heritage Centre website. Here you will find the answers to all your questions about how this organization functions, its activities, the World Heritage List, the World Heritage Committee and also numerous documents available for downloading.


World Heritage in France

Thirty-nine properties in France are inscribed on the World Heritage List, including 35 cultural ones, 3 natural and one mixed.
For the complete list, please consult:

The French World Heritage Sites Association (Association des Biens Français du Patrimoine Mondial - ABFPM) was created in 2007 to enable all the different sites to pool their knowledge and share experiences concerning heritage conservation, protection, enhancement, management and events. As a result, several different themed workshops have been held, in order to work together on eventual problem areas such as communication, management plans and international relations.
Further information