Mont-Dauphin - A Vauban fortress listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage
Louis XIV, the Sun King, ordered his chief military engineer Vauban to build a fortress at Mont-Dauphin following a 1692 invasion by the troops of Savoy which had threatened to cut the kingdom in half.
The pink-stone, star-shaped stronghold was designed to protect Provence and Dauphiné from further attacks. It was built from scratch in a decade on a bleak desert plateau known as « the thousand winds » overlooking the confluence of the rivers Durance and Guil at a height of 1050 metres.
Vauban hailed the site as the best situated to forestall a foreign invasion from and help a French expédition into what is now Italy.
Ironically, the 1713 Utrecht Treaty moved the border further east, depriving Mont-Dauphin of its strategic importance. Planned to accomodate 2000 soldiers and as many civilians, the garrison town, like its Church, was never completed.
Spared by war, Mont-Dauphin is the well-preserved archetype of a mountain fortress with its clifftop ramparts, moats, barracks, arsenal and two powder stores.
The military gradually left Mont-Dauphin after World War I. The fortress, a national monument, is administered by the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN).
It was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage in 2008 together with 11 other forts by Vauban forming the Reseau des sites majeurs de Vauban. Among them is Mont-Dauphin’s twin fortress, Mont-Louis in the Pyrenees.