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Le Fort Carre - Antibes - France
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© Christine Till
Antibes, a picturesque little port in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur région on the French Riviera, is only 7 miles northeast of Cannes, its glamorous neighbor on the Mediterranean coast. It has a stormy history, being situated in a much fought-over region.
Originally Antipolis, a Greek trading post established in the 5th century BC by Phocaeans from Marseille, it became a Roman town in 43 BC. In the 10th century, Antibes found a protector in Seigneur Rodoart, who built extensive fortified walls around the town and a castle in which to live. For the next 200 years, the town experienced a period of renewal. From 1384 to 1608 it was a fief of the coast-ruling Grimaldi family - currently Monaco's royal family. By the end of the 15th century, the entire region had fallen under the protection and control of Louis XI, king of France, and the small port of Antibes fell into obscurity.
The area around Antibes finally emerged from its long slumber around the middle of the 19th century, as wealthy people from around Europe discovered the beauty of the place and built luxurious homes here.
The first fortifications were probably constructed by the romans, but the town was given new defences in medieval times. In 1553, a tower called la tour Saint-Florent was built on a penninsular to the north of the town. There had previously been a chapel on the site, and this was incorperated into the tower. Henry III gave the tower four bastions in 1565, and it became Fort Carré (the squared fort). In the 1680's Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, who is considered one the of the greatest military engineers of all time, strengthened Fort Carré by adding traverses and outer walls to the fortification.
Fort Carré is in very good condition, though the outer walls are overgrown in places. The seaward defences are intact. The large bastion on the breakwater protecting the harbour has also survived.
December 15th, 2012
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