Friday, November 20, 2015

Neuf-Brisach - France

 The Fortifications of Vauban are 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the borders of France. They were designed by Vauban (1633–1707), and were added in 2008 to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I already had cards of Libéria Fort in Villefranche-de-Conflent, Camaret-sur-Mer and Besançon. In the beginning of this year, Óscar sent me a 1st card from another fortification, Neuf-Brisach and a few weeks ago Raquel sent me a 2nd card from there.  

Neuf-Brisach is a fortified town 18km south-east of Colmar in the Haut-Rhin department of the Alsace region, close to the Rhine River. It is best known as being a masterpiece of military design by Vauban.

Photo: A. Linder - Editions VALOIRE-ESTEL - BLOIS
The defensive layout of Neuf-Brisach is best understood from an aerial view which clearly shows the octagonal layout of the town, with its borders heavily fortified with two further rings of fortifications (the inner ring is octagonal while the outer defences are in the form of an eight-pointed star, and yet more regular fortifications outside the 'star'.
The town was designed by the renowned military engineer Vauban, under Louis XIV, in order to defend the border from Hapsburg, and built starting in 1698 - there was previously no town at all in the location, which was intended to replace the town of Vieux-Brisach which had recently been lost to the Hapsburgs as part of a peace treaty signed in 1697.

Work on the defences was complete by 1702 and the buildings in the town were constructed over the following 40 years.
It was to be a long time until Neuf-Brisach was to see military action, with the Prussian invasion of 1870 - the French troops here were unable to prevent the Prussians from advancing, and the occupying Germans subsequently linked the town with an important bridge across the Rhine nearby. The town was also damaged during the Second World War (and subsequently repaired).
It is the unusual, carefully planned, design that is of foremost interest in the town - it is unusual to see a town so carefully planned unless we look back to the 13th century bastide towns of south-west France, and is considered to be one of Vauban's greatest achievements. Consequently Neuf-Brisach is a magnet for historians and engineers as much as tourists. - in:

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