Citadelle de Port-Louis: 430-Year-Old Sea Fort

Located in Morhiban, France, Citadelle de Port-Louis is a medieval sea fort protecting the town of Port-Louis for nearly 500 years. The fort was built by the Spanish in the late 16th century against the French. However, only a short time after its construction the French took the fort from Spain and used it for themselves. For centuries, they continued to modify Citadelle de Port-Louis. Although it lost its military significance as time passed, today, the fort is a tourist attraction with museums and beautiful views.

Citadelle de Port-Louis

Naval warfare was quite common in Europe until modern times. Many nations sought to have stronger forces and defenses to get the upper hand. While in the search of better odds at sea, the English, French and the Spanish constantly crossed paths and fought each other. One of the oldest witnesses of these fights is the Port-Louis fort.

Citadelle de Port-Louis and the sea

Citadelle de Port-Louis takes its name from Louis XIII, who also gave the town its name as well.

Citadelle de Port-Louis and the city

The first plans for a fort came from the Spanish who wanted to protect and better observe the harbor of Lorient. This harbor was quite important both for the Spanish and the French and monitoring the sea traffic was equally important as well. Until the Peace of Vervins, the fort stayed with the Spanish who had to relinquish it after the peace treaty.

Citadelle de Port-Louis tower

After acquiring the town, the French forces firstly destroyed a part of the citadel so that the Spanish could not come back. However, seeing the importance of the location itself, they started to make developments and modify the structure. As the structure took an extensive form, it served the French army and the colonial trade of the country as well.

Citadelle de Port-Louis entrance

Moroever, Citadelle de Port-Louis was a part of one of the darkest eras of the history too. During WW2, when the Nazis invaded France, they also took control of the fort. The Nazis turned the fort into a submarine base and prison for the members of the French resistance. After the end of the war, a mass grave was discovered with 69 bodies. The bodies were taken out of the mass grave and were given proper burials which the visitors can see today.

Citadelle de Port-Louis shore
the fort walls
the fort cannon
the fort interior
the fort from above