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Fort Bellegarde

UNESCO Heritage List

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Bellegarde Fortress was built by Vauban starting from 1668. It sits on top of a hill overlooking the pass of Perthus an ancient communication route between France and Spain.
The strategic location was used since 1285 when the King of Majorca built here a fortified tower to protect himself from his powerful neighbor the King of Aragon, who managed however to conquer the region in the 14th century.
Like the rest of the Roussillon the Perthus area became French at the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 and its strategic importance increased so much that in 1668 Vauban decided to built a stronghold in the place of the old tower.
The building process lasted 3 decades. To build it Vauban lowered the hill the fort is located on by 30m. Even during construction time between 1674 and 1675 at the time of the Holland war the fort’s site was attacked and occupied by the Spanish troops.
The fortress, a pentagonal structure that occupies 14 hectares, is equipped with a 1 km long glacis (artificial slope of earth!) and with 5 bastions: bastion du Perthus, bastion de Saint André, bastion de Panissars, d’Espagne and du Precipice all connected with each other. Between the bastion du Perthus and the bastion de Saint André there is "Porte de France" the only access gate of the fort.
The second line of defense of the fort is an second line of ramparts and an interior protection wall. Inside of these 3 layers of protection there is the actual fort containing dwellings for up to 600 soldiers, a chapel a hospital and a bakery. To supply the fort with the necessary water a well of 62 meters was dug in the bedrock in 1698.
Nowadays the fort is located part on the French part on the Spanish side of the border (while the entrance is on the French side when walking around the fort our mobile phones received the notification that we were already in Spain!!!)
The fort is very easily accessible by car.

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Visiting Hours:Opening hours: From 13th of May to 18th of September.
Monday to Friday - 10:30am to 6:30pm
Saturday and Sunday - 1:30 pm to 6:30pm


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