History and description

A site which has been occupied for 4000 years, Sisteron is an unavoidable border crossing between the Dauphiné and Provence. Situated on a bend of the Durance, nestling in a gap, the strategic site meant a citadel was needed. The town was fortified since the middle Ages, with the first citadel dating from 1589. The protestant captain Jehan Sarrazin drafted the plans. It had two bastioned fronts: the first one, to the south, faced the town and included the gate, while the second one, to the west, was east-facing. The remainder of the enclosure included a wall with buttresses flanked with round echauguettes with quarter-round corbels. Barracks, a powder keg and a chapel were also housed inside, which was separated from the bastioned fronts by a berm. In 1611-1612, Jean de Bonnefond, engineer of king Henri IV, made modifications. The citadel was partially abandoned in the course of the century; a memo written in 1691 by the engineer Du Cairon, at the start of the war of the League of Augsbourg, described it as in ruins.
On 21 December, 1692, Vauban visited Sisteron. The engineer Niquet was carrying out a project at the same time, which was approved by Vauban: enlarging the hornwork of the citadel. However, the construction was limited to a simple renovation of the existing installations, since Sisteron was not a first-line site.
In the 19th century, the French Restoration focused more on the citadel of Sisteron based on the Austrian-Sardinian threat. The citadel was completely renovated and its gates were redesigned.

Current state

The citadel still stands. Of the interior buildings, the only examples remaining are the powder magazine and the chapel (reconstructed en 1970). The whole set of ramparts is open to the public. The ramparts were demolished, apart from two medieval towers.


44° 11' 53.2032" N, 5° 55' 43.981" E

Alpes de Haute-Provence
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
  • BARDE (Y.), Sentinelles des Alpes, citadelles et fortifications, Rennes, 2010, éd. Ouest-France.
  • BORNECQUE (R.) et FAUCHERRE (N.), La route des fortifications dans les Alpes, Paris, 2006, éd. Huitième Jour, coll. Les étoiles de Vauban.
  • BORNECQUE (R.), Vauban et les Alpes, Saint-Léger-Vauban, 1995, éd. Association des Amis de la Maison Vauban.
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