On the eastern end of Oleron island, the Chateau d'Oleron overlooks the Oleron channel.  The fort helped protect the salt center at Brouage directly across the channel on the mainland as well as the Charente estuary - and the Rochefort naval dockyard upriver. The city walls are an example of what is often called Vauban's second system.  Small bastions are fronted by counterguards, also known as detached bastions.  Although planned, the city walls were never completed.

     Unfortunately, during your humble and obedient servant's visit daylight was a depreciating asset, so models and drawings will have to suffice for the never completed town fortifications.  Instead, we will concentrate on the citadel and its outworks.

    Built in 1624, and improved after a Dutch raid 1674, the citadel features numerous outworks, the work of Vauban.  A demi-lune is followed by a hornwork, which is followed by another demi-lune, followed by a covered way, followed on one side by an earthen fleche and other earthen defenses.  Entering the citadel requires the crossing of four bridges and the passing of four gates.  Next, we will enter the citadel in this way.


After passing in front of the hornwork, we cross the ditch into the counterguard.  The end of the ditch included a wall with firing ports topped with a monk's hat to prevent passage along its top.

Continuing along, we have passed through a narrow portion of the hornwork and are about to enter the demi-lune.

From atop the demi-lune, you can see the top of the gate that passes through it.

Continuing on toward the main gate, we see a tenaille trace between the bastions, giving additional protection to the curtain wall.


Entering the gate, we face the arsenal.  Signs give cross sections of various features of the citadel, including, at right, the gate complex.

On the right side of the panorama is the powder magazine.

Cisterns below the courtyard stored water for the garrison.


Powder Magazine

Sea Face

The area facing the sea featured casemated bastions, an expensive and unnecessary luxury.

Copyright 2015 by John Hamill

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