Vauban’s Tower 46 in Belfort

Tower 46 (Tour 46 in French) is one of the three cannon towers that Vauban designed in 1687 for the three corners of his new city walls.

Like the other two towers, this one has the shape of a pentagon and is built of pink sandstone and bricks. The lower level had openings for cannons that could fire into the trenches in front of the walls, and the upper level could support 7 to 8 pieces of artillery for firing at enemy forces approaching from longer distances.

The name Tour 46 does not mean there were ever 46 towers in Belfort. When Vauban was drawing up his plans, he assigned a number to each element of the fortifications, going counter-clockwise around the site. The two demi-lunes (half-moons) guarding the entrance gates were numbered 26 and 44, for example, and the three corner towers got the numbers 27, 41 and 46.

Entrance to Tour 46 exhibition hall

Two of the corner towers, 41 and 46, are now used as exhibition halls, for temporary art exhibits curated by the Belfort museums. When I was there in 2016, Tour 46 was showing an exhibit of works by the painter Eugène-Nestor de Kermadec (1899-1976).

Paintings by Eugène-Nestor de Kermadec in Tower 46

Kermadec was born in Paris, where he also studied. In his younger years he was known as a cubist painter and a member of the avant-garde artistic scene in Paris.

He later became quite famous in France for completely different reasons, as a professional tennis player and especially as a referee. For several decades he was the main referee at the finals of the international Roland Garros tennis tournament in the Paris quarter of Auteuil.

More paintings by Kermadec

Although he gradually moved away from cubism, Kermadec’s paintings continued to be semi-abstract, using shapes that are not realistic but are usually recognizable as portraits of people, especially women.

City wall, Citadel and Lion, as seen from just outside Tower 46

Adjoining Tour 46, a long section of Vauban’s city wall still exists. Up on the hill, below the citadel, is Bartholdi’s Lion of Belfort.

My photos in this post are from 2016. I wrote the text in 2020.

See more posts on Belfort, France.
See more posts on Sébastien Le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban.

3 thoughts on “Vauban’s Tower 46 in Belfort”

  1. I’ve visited Vauban’s tower in Besançon. We spent an entire day there as it also houses a museum covering the Resistance as well as other attractions. Perhaps you’ve been there. The view overlooking the Doubs River is stunning.

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