In France we visited the town of St. John Pied de Port. This town is right near the Spanish border in Basque country and has long been a trading post and fortified area due to its strategic location. I found more information about this fortress at this site which is run by an individual with interests in fortresses and siege warfare and I recommend that you review this link for more background and an overhead view of the fortified location.
I have not been to many fortresses but based on limited research this seems to be one of the best preserved locations. The citadel is intact (see below) and the city walls exist along with much of the earthworks.
Here is a view of the city walls, below. Much of the fort was built in the 1600’s and then improved by Vauban himself. I am not a masonry expert but they must maintain these walls because they still seem intact and in good shape.
Here is a view of the city below from the citadel. As you can see the fortress dominates the valley as well as providing a last stand location for besieged defenders.
I highly recommend a visit to this city if you are interested in pre-Napoleonic warfare and if your significant other likes to shop, as well, there will be much for them to do since the town is very tourist-friendly.
Cross posted at LITGM
4 thoughts on “Fortifications at St. Jean Pied de Port”
“if your significant other likes to shop, as well, there will be much for them to do since the town is very tourist-friendly.”
I question your concept of friendly
Um… by tourist friendly I mean that there are a lot of shops where you can buy textiles and other items and restaurants to dine in. The city is also small and compact so you can walk through the whole city from almost any point in town, and it is very scenic.
Lucca,in Italy, is also a nice example of medieval fortifications. It was also the home of my favorite pre-Renaissance painter, Fra Lippo Lippi who used a beautiful young nun as his model in multiple paintings in which she was usually the Madonna. They became intimate and had a son who is also a famous painter. Eventually, Lorenzo de Medici intervened with the Pope to have them released from their vows. Fra Lippo Lippi was murdered at the age of 67 by an irate husband who found him in flagrant delicto with his young wife. For many reasons, he is a hero to me. Lucca is a lovely town.
This town is in the border with Spain, but not with the Basque Country, with Navarra, which is not part of the Basque Country. This is one of the claims the ETA terrorists do. That Navarra is part of their paradise Basque Country. This is the starting point of one of the best known Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
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