Calais, FORTIFIED CITY
The geographical position of Calais on the Strait of Pas-de-Calais is the richness of its history and its heritage. Originally a port and a military city, its oldest heritage leads us today to retrace the history of this strong and strategic place.
Situated at the end of the spit of land closing off the outer harbour of Calais, Fort Risban faces the city, with the Bassin du Paradis and the Courgain Maritime district in its sights. Built and updated in the 14th, 15th and 17th centuries, it was also known as the “Sentinel of Calais” and protected the town on its seaward side. Today, it is the last surviving fort on the sea, along with Ambleteuse. Listed as a Historic Monument, it occupies a strategic position between North Calais and the seafront. The redevelopment of this fort, which takes into account all the changes and occupations experienced by Calais, should allow for the arrival of new creatures.
Old fortifications and medieval town then 12th century citadel also fortified by Louis XIII and the Cardinal de Richelieu, then by Vauban who improved the North-West bastion. Occupied by the German army during the Second World War, this place has been converted into a sports complex. It is also a place to walk in the heart of a historical heritage..
Fort Nieulay was the strategic point of the English defence between 1360 and 1558. Like Fort Risban, its present form is the result of four construction and modernisation campaigns. This fortress protects a system of locks that could flood the country in the event of an attack. During the Spanish occupation, large parapets and masonry bastions were added. Vauban advised Louis XIV and rebuilt the fort a little further west, straddling the river so that the locks were placed inside the fortress.
This ogival-shaped cathedral blockhouse, built in 1940, was used as a storage facility for the German K5 gun, which was moved on rails by means of locomotives. It has gradually faded into the urban landscape, and remains the last of its kind accessible on the coast. The machines will cleverly reveal it as it is intended to become the nerve centre of the Compagnie du Dragon project.
Bike route around the fortified sites of calais
The "Boucle des forts" is a marked circuit designed by teams from the City of Art and History department of the City of Calais. It connects Fort Risban, the Citadel and Fort Nieulay, offering a perfect visit to the places linked to the history of machines to come, imagined by François Delaroziere. This cycling tour route will introduce you to all the fortified areas and understand the defensive system of the city. The route can be done by bike (from 45 minutes to 1h30) or on foot (from 2h to 3h). You will hike around vast landscapes, ramparts, basins, bridges, casemates, powder magazines... You will leave from the seaside to go inland.
The label "City or Country of Art and History" is awarded by the Minister of Culture after consulting the National Council of Cities and Countries of Art and History. It qualifies territories, municipalities or groups of municipalities which, aware of the challenges represented by the appropriation of their architecture and their heritage by the inhabitants, engage in an active process of knowledge and mediation..