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City Pass 2014
  Over 30 tourist venues included  
 
Lille City Tour
  A 50mn bus tour  
 

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Visit of the Belfry
104 metres height to overview the city.
 

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Old Lille
Every Saturday at 10.15 am, an English guided tour.
 
 

 

 

HOME \ DISCOVER LILLE \ Monuments and museums \ The fortifications

   
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 THE FORTIFICATIONS

THE CITADEL

This is the work of Sébastien Leprestre, Marqui of Vauban, carried out on the order of Louis XIV, who had just conquered the town. Its construction lasted from 1667 until 1670. It was really a little town surrounded by five bastions in the form of a star with a total circumference of 2,200 metres. Building it called for the firing of 60 million bricks, and the quarrying of three million stone blocks and 70 000 pieces of sandstone. The royal entrance gate carries a Latin inscription sounding the praise of the glorious Sun King. The "Queen of Citadels" on the frontier of Flanders, formed part of a double line of strongholds between Gravelines, Dunkirk and Maubeuge/Rocroi. This was the famous "Pré Carré" conceived by Vauban to include 28 fortified towns.

The Lille Citadel is still occupied by the army and may only be visited as part of a guided tour organised by the Tourist Office. (guided tour only in French).

 

PORTE DE PARIS
Place Simon Vollant

This Triumphal Arch was erected between 1685 and 1692 in honour of the capture of Lille by Louis XIV in 1667. It replaced the more modest Sick-Quarter Gate which had been there since the Middle Ages. The engineer charged with constructing the gate, Simon Vollant, had already distinguished himself by his work with Vauban on the building of the Citadel. On his own initiative he sculpted decoration expressing the power and magnificence of the victorious king. In a niche on the right, club in hand, is Hercules, symbol of strength. On the left is Mars, the god of war. The top of the arch is crowned by two angels trumpeting the Sun King's conquest to the entire world. The Place was given its circular shape when the ramparts were demolished in 1858.

 

PORTE DE GAND
Rue de Gand

According to the adage, ruling means foreseeing, and in fact it was during a period of peace and prosperity that Lille was enlarged for the fifth time and its defences strengthened : the Porte de Gand was built by Pierre Raoul under the Spanish occupation. On its outward-facing side it lost its battlements and its decoration, but its severity recalls that walls and ramparts must above all impress potential enemies, and that Lille was then frequently an object of envy. It was in the 17th century that Vauban doubled the defensive elements whose remains can be seen in the gardens. The interior façade is more attractive, patterned with polychrome bricks and with a high roof and stone-framed windows. The traditional sandstone base sits harmoniously in an old quarter occupied by several religious communities.

 

PORTE DE ROUBAIX
Rue de Roubaix

When the gate went up in 1620, Lille still belonged to the Spanish Netherlands and it formed part of a new city wall erected more towards the North. The enlargmeent of 1617-1621 meant an additional 75 acres had to be protected and the defensive purpose of the construction can be seen in the crenellated corniche and the channel allowing the drawbridge to be raised and lowered. It was at this gate that an Austrian major prensented himself in 1792, carrying the ultimatum of the Duke of Saxe-Teschen, vainly demanding the city's surrender. The two lateral opening were made in the 19th century so that trams could pass through. On the left of the gate is the "House of Old Men" which dates from 1624.

 

NOBLE TOUR
Rue des déportés

Built during the 100 Years' War by Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to protect himself against the French armies, the tower was the highest of 65 in the city walls. Topped by a wooden "hourd" of firing positions, it permitted the defence of the quarter and the St Sauveur hospital. When Lille became French in 1667, Vauban converted the tower into a half-buried powder supply depot.
Sheltered by three-metre thick walls, are two superimposed rooms ; one has a vaulted ceiling with intersecting ribs, the other has a low dome of brick, illuminated by three small openings : they are reached by a staircase in a tower. When the ramparts were done away with they were left isolated and mutilated. A monument to collective memory, it became doubly so when it was made the Memorial to the Resistance.

 

FORT DU REDUIT
Rue du Réduit

After Louis XIV's conquest of the city in 1667, Vauban desired that Lille become the most perfect stronghold of the ingdom. He built the Citadel, enlarged the town and fortified the enclosure. In 1673, he built the Fort Saint Sauveur, later called the Fort du Réduit. Really a little citadel, it houses the engineering services. The chapel in the centre (1707) is an example of French classical style, built in Lezennes stone. It presents a basilical plan without transept, and a harmonious frontage with superposition of three orders. The galble is decorated with low-relief where two support the coats of arms of France and Navarre.

 

 
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