Fortified City of Saint Martin de Re
UNESCO Heritage List
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Surrounded by Vauban fortifications and thus recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site St. Martin de Re is one of the most beautiful towns on the Atlantic coast of France and the biggest town in the Island of Re.
It is a fortified town surrounded by more then 14 km of ramparts. The star shaped fortification was built in 1681 - in only 40 days- on the ruins of an old fort built during the reign of Lois XIII.
The purpose of the structure was the protection of the military port of Rochefort, of the commercial port of La Rochelle and the salt trade of the island of Re. The fortification is a beautiful example of Vauban's work and is in a very well preserved condition.
In the 19th century the citadel was transformed in a penitentiary (that still exists now on the east side of the town) and was the starting point for prisoners sent in New Caledonie nd Guyanne, of whose the most famous was Henri Charriere known as Papillon.
The town of Saint Martin de Re - whose entrances are still two monumental gates ornate with the emblems of King Louis XIV - is dominated by the bell tower of Saint Martin church. From its top - after a 117 steps climb - one can see the beautiful panorama of the island up to its most western point at The Lighthouse of Whales.
There other 2 fortifications on the Island of Re:- Fort of Pree near the town of La Flotte and La Redoute near the town of Rivedoux-Plage. Fort of Pree was rebuilt by Vauban in 1685 on the site of a previous fortification built in 1627 during the reign of Louis XIII. It is another of Vauban's stars!
La Redoute is a square 45 meters by 45 meters fortification built also in 1685.