La Rochelle

History and description

A town founded in the 10th century, La Rochelle had its first urban wall installed in 1130. This urban wall was replaced in 1160. The first modern installations were constructed under Henri IV of France by an Italian engineer called Scipione Vergano. Six bastions were thus constructed between 1596 and 1612 by the bourgeois Protestants. This modern urban wall resisted the long siege from 1627-1628, in which Richelieu was involved. After these events, it was razed to the ground, except at the level of the sea front.
In 1689, Louis XIV sent the engineer Francis Ferry, a colleague of Vauban, to the site to reconstruct the urban wall there. This construction site was completed in 1724. The new urban wall was far bigger than its predecessor. It included nine bastions, two ravelins, a hornwork (that of Saint-Nicolas) and a redoubt.

Current state

Around half the modern urban wall has been preserved, integrated into a city park created in 1887, by way of a state donation made to the town. Six gates also survive, two of which are front-facing: the tour de l’Horloge (16th century), the Protestant gate of Maubec, the guardroom of the porte de Cougnes, the pillars of the porte Neuve (1689), the lower part of the porte Dauphine (1689) and the porte Royale (1706-1723). The other half was razed in the 19th century and replaced by avenues and a railway station.

La Rochelle

La Rochelle
46° 9' 36" N, -1° 8' 60" E

urban city wall and coastal batteries
Scipione Vergano, François Ferry
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  • BONIN (J. C.), FAUCHERRE (N.), Les tours de la Rochelle - Charente-Maritime, Paris, 1998.
  • CRETE (L.), La vie quotidienne à La Rochelle au temps du grand siège 1627-1628, Paris, 1987.
  • FAUCHERRE (N.), Bastions de la mer. Le guide des fortifications de la Charente-Maritime, Chauray-Niort, 1994.
  • LE BLANC (F Y), FAUCHERRE (N.), La route des fortifications en Atlantique. Paris, 2007.
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