Vue aérienne de la citadelle d'Arras
Fortifications of Vauban


In Vauban’s "Pré Carré"

In 1659, the town of Arrras came under the authority of the King of France for good and was incorporated into Vauban’s "pré carré", a double line of fortified towns built to protect the north-eastern border of the kingdom.

The citadel was one of Vauban’s first constructions and took two years to build, from 1668 to 1670. It was set at the confluence of two streams so that the surrounding areas could be flooded in case of attack. This pentagon-shaped citadel, built around a rectangular courtyard, forms the finest example of a citadel on the plain according to Vauban’s first system. The buildings, constructed to an orthogonal plan, bear witness to the meeting between the classical architecture of the “Grand Siecle” and local traditional brick and stone decoration. However, the citadel soon became known as “the useless beauty” as it was not located in a good strategic position but set too far back from the border.

Today, the area around the citadel forms a green belt at the gates of the historic town and is changing into a proper city park. The Arras City Council now owns the citadel and plans to make it a true district of the town.

Inscribed Property
the citadel of Arras
Outstanding Universal Value
new plain citadel of the first system
Date of construction
between 1668 and 1670
239 ft
GPS coordinates
50.282977, 2.759999
  • Vue de la porte royale de la citadelle d'Arras
    The Porte Royale
  • La chapelle de la citadelle d'Arras
    The chapel of Saint-Louis
  • Les douves et les remparts de la citadelle d'Arras
    The citadel ramparts

Journées européennes du patrimoine

Les 16 & 17 septembre 2023, les douze fortifications de Vauban inscrites sur la Liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO vous proposent de nombreux événements. Découvrez-les vite !

Tourist information

Communauté urbaine d’Arras
La citadelle
Boulevard du général de Gaulle
BP – 10345
62 026 Arras cedex
Phone number: + 33 3 21 21 87 00

Arras Pays d’Artois Tourisme
Hôtel de ville
Place des Héros
62000 Arras
Phone number: +33 3 21 51 26 95

    How to visit / Access

    Access by the boulevard du Général de Gaulle: free parking at the citadel, opposite the Arras Memorial and the British cemetery in the Faubourg d'Amiens. Free access. Main entrance through the Royal Gate (Turenne district).

    Things to see and do:

    • The historical exhibition and the relief plan in the Salle des Familles, free access from 9 am to 7 pm.
    • Walks: Tour of the bastions and Tour of the moats and the citadel wood. 6 remarkable viewpoints.
    • The Wall of the Fusillés, free access from 2pm to 7pm.
    • The Cit'Loisirs accrobranche.
    • The Cit'abeilles honey factory.