Louis XIV's France absorbed Lorraine in the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1679, and this included the town of Longwy.  Facing Hapsburg held Luxembourgto the east, a fortified Longwy was needed to counteract that great fortress and protect invasion routes into France from the Ardennes.  Tasked with design of the new fort, Vauban had the town leveled to be rebuilt inside the new fort.  The fort had six bastions and five demi-lunes plus a hornwork and other outworks.  Vauban's plan to refortify the old castle as part of a large fortified camp was never implemented - these camps were intended to accommodate entire armies, making for a more active and protracted defense, but the money was just not there.

The fort saw action in 1792, 1814-15, 1870-71, and 1914.  Most of the fortifications have been dismantled, but enough remains to make for a good visit.

Adapted from Wiki:


To enter town, a person had to go between a detached outwork and bluffs, pass over this covered way and into a demi-lune, the Demi-lune de la Porte de France.

At right is the gate though which we just passed.  A guard post followed, divided in two for officers and men, then there is a circular stairwell to the ditch.  The demi-lune featured several traverses to protect its defenders from enfilade fire. (See below.)

View from the side of the demi-lune.  Traverses can be seen on the covered way - a large structure has been built on the glacis, or field of fire.  You can also see buildings behind the Bastion du Chateau, the extent of preserved fortifications in this direction.  A powder magazine was inside the bastion du Chateau.  


Porte de France

Entering town involved crossing a drawbridge then passing through a corridor with a wooden door with iron reinforcement, then a portcullis, then a second door.  

During the siege of August 1914, a shell pierced the central part of the building. This part was then completely removed during the restoration work in 1923.
The corridor separates into three as it nears town.  In August 1914, a German shell destroyed the central gateway.  On the outside, the sun emblem represents Louis XIV, the sun king.

Walking through the gate we can look back and investigate the structure.  Here on the city side, the Porte de France opened on a large rectangular building. On the ground floor, the passage widened into three separate parallel alleys. This made it easier to control vehicles without slowing down traffic too much. On both sides of these alleys were the guard-house and a prison. The first floor of this building was intended for housing officers. It was the headquarters of the fortified town before the construction of the governor's house.  During the siege of August 1914, a shell pierced the center of the building. This part of the building was removed during the restoration work in 1923.

The road continues to the town square, but we will climb up to the ramparts. Note the Boulangerie.   


Built to withstand bombardments, the bakery included a cistern in the basement that stored rainwater from the roof.  The garrison could get this water from wells at each exterior corner of the building.  (Note structure at the corner.)  The ground floor is separated by a double staircase into two rooms with three ovens each.  Upper floors were used to store cereals and flour.  The bakery could feed a 5,000 man garrison.  Note battle damage.

The gatehouse can be seen at far left and far right.  The Boulangerie, the demi-lune, and the Bastion du Bourg can be seen.  Next we walk to the bastion.


The bastion is bisected by a modern road entrance into town.  Astride the road is a chapel built into the defenses.

The inside, underground part of the bastion featured a cross shaped, two story shelter for men and horses.  The interpretive sign show it looking much like a dome-like feature at Belle Ile

Beyond the road cutting through the bastion we can see the curtain extending to the Bastion Notre-Dame with the Demi-lune du Precipice in between.  In the angle between the demi-lune and the Bastion du Bourg was a place of arms that included a battery emplacement.

From the place of arms you can see the steep hillside down to the lower town.

During my visit, a man herded his goats from the fort's ditch to the lower town.

This features held a sentry post.

View from in front of the demi-lune

Behind the demi-lune you can see the traverses that protect the defenders from enfilade fire.  At each bastion there is a postern, a sally port.  Interpretive signs indicate that a postern would have been walled up until use.  Maps show that at one time there were additional walls in from of the posterns to protect them.

Inside the postern there are stairs to town.

Town Square

An arsenal served as a weapons storage and repair facility.  Over 17,000 weapons could be stored on one floor; three entrances allowed for one way traffic.  Workshops surrounded the arsenal.  A 60 meter deep well was dug to ensure a water supply during a siege, covered by a bombproof structure.  The church, Saint-Dagobert, has damaged in the Franco-Prussian War siege, losing the third floor of the steeple - which was also used for military observation.  Although the king paid for the church, the Hotel de Ville was finished only afterwards because the town had to pay.  


A sundial was placed above the entrance in 1718.

Hotel de Ville

Damage is still evident from 1870 and 1914.

Copyright, John Hamill 2017-18.

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