Friday, August 5, 2011

Neuf Brisach

You've probably never heard of this place and neither had we. Was the reason that we went there because we read that it  had a church with a purple door?

No. It was because it looks like this from the air. We saw it from the window of the plane from Amsterdam to Basle just before we landed.

Yes, it's a fortified city and you can read about it here. Since it was only 20 miles from Selestat we decided it would be an easy trip to try out the exchange family's car.

That's Marianne's foot in the lower right. She's always trying to sneak into my photos.

So here is the church on the opposite side of the square. Originally constructed in 1731-36, it was destroyed in 1945 and reconstructed in 1975 according to the original plans. This town is only a few miles from Germany and war has been a relatively common occurrence here.

It was constructed as a military church since the purpose of the town was to be a garrison.

It's quite a large square in the middle, no doubt it's size was determined by the need to hold parades for the garrison soldiers. Now there is plenty of space for parking and the local weekly market. Parking was free.

There is a well at each corner of the square.

The base of a fountain in the middle of the square. Flowers abound. 

The top of the fountain, but no water.

Looking toward the gate for the road to Colmar. The town is not large and easy to walk around.

Everything in France is a little different.

The town was much damaged in the various wars so most of the buildings are not that old. Here is an old archway between two relatively modern buildings.

Once you see street signs like this, you know you are in France.

The local Town Hall.

Interesting gate.

The Gendarmerie. It seemed to be quite a large building for the Police necessary for a small town but no doubt there was some prior military use.

The grave of the Fort's Artillery Commander is in the grounds of the Gendarmerie.

 The Vauban Museum named after the architect who designed the fortified city. It's worth taking the time to click on the link and wade through the translation into English. He really was a great person and not just an architect of fortifications. Marianne found this link with aerial photos about Vauban and his fortifications which is very interesting.

A hallway leading through the museum. 

Coming to the end of the hallway, you are initially greeted by this sight and you wonder what on earth it is. At the time there was a terrific din from some mechanical device whirring and shaking and I initially thought it came from this object. It turned out to be a tractor with a large mowing attachment.

It's actually a flat bottomed barge which was used to transport stone on the Rhine between 1862 and 1864.

I rather liked the horn.

The exit from the Museum is really the gate to Belfort.

The ditch between the raised earth walls.

The stone was mined from the nearby Vosges Mountains.

Gun emplacements that would have allowed defenders to mow down attackers caught in the ditches between the walls. The fort was not designed to be impregnable, but to cost the enemy a lot of effort and lives to conquer. It would buy time for France to rush troops and supplies to the invaded area.

Small sentry posts were built on top of these sculptured thingies at the sharp points on the walls.

A tunnel leading through the middle ring wall.

Roof of the tunnel. The amount of effort required to build this fort must have been immense.

A modern sculpture placed at one of the corner points.

The gate to Colmar along with the mowing tractor.

More of the fortifications.

Just outside the walls was the local cemetery.

It looked like your typical well kept European cemetery. Most of the surnames were German names which makes sense when you consider that Germany controlled this region at various times in history.

In the back corner of the cemetery was a section for British soldiers, all of who died in 1918 a few months before the end of the war.

A couple of the grave stones. All but the pilot were soldiers.

In the regular part of the cemetery was this monument to a French hero.

We managed not to get run down by cars as we walked through the Colmar Gate. There was quite a bit of traffic going through.

Back inside the town, we detoured to see the Suzonni Barracks. 

Imagine our surprise when we turned the corner and saw it was much longer than we had suspected. Vauban had four barracks built, all of the same design.

The back of the barracks. Obviously, some restoration is needed but when you consider just how many old buildings there are in France, you start to understand the magnitude of the problem of restoring and maintaining their heritage buildings.

So here is a small part of France's century's long battle with Germany. We tend to think of only the twentieth century wars, but the Rhine has been the site of many battles.

1 comment:

  1. le sigh...
    I would love to be there.
    BTW - Vosges = chocolate? Hm...I need to investigate that connection.