European Fortress Day

september 2019

 

In September 2019, EFFORTS Europe and Stichting Liniebreed Ondernemen are organizing the European Fortress Day for the second time. We do this because we want to put the beautiful military heritage with fortresses and fortified cities on the international map. Do you want to participate in the European Fortress Day? Send an e-mail to titia@liniebreed.nl with this completed participant form and some nice pictures. We will then ensure that your program appears on this website.

In 2018 there were 10 participating European countries that have jointly opened 70 heritage sites.

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More informatie about European Federation of Fortified Sites: www.efforts-europe.eu

In the fortified city of Den Bosch, several military locations are open to the public on Saturday 14 and / or Sunday 15 September. Visit for example Saint Johns’ Bulwark; a defense structure built in front of the medieval city gate on the west side of the city center. Learn more about the military heritage in the underground Bastionder Information Center. September the 15th you can also visit two fortresses: Orthen Fortress and Isabel Fortress. In the Arsenal you can join in several guided tours or play the Pieckenpoort Game with Virtual Reality glasses.

Netherlands

Many fortresses, bunkers and fortified towns

Fortress Festival 7-15 september 2019

From Saturday 7 to Sunday 15 September, the landscape of the Waterlinies in the Netherlands is the backdrop for the Fortress Festival. The public can enjoy theater, films, visual arts and music. An outdoor cinema will be set up at a number of locations in the Stelling van Amsterdam and Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie. On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, the activities in many forts are dominated by the Open Monument Weekend. Even forts that were not otherwise opened are then open to the public. Look at fortenfestival.nl. The fortified town of Den Bosch has a huge programme on 14 and 15 September (read this on the right side).

History
The Netherlands has 10 waterlines: defense lines consisting of fortifications, forts and bunkers with an ingenious system of locks, dikes and canals. When the enemy approached, large plots of land could be put under water, not deep enough for ships and too deep for man and horse. Today, a large number of forts have been given a new destination. Saturday the 8th of September several forts and fortified cities are open to visit.

More information about the program will follow later.

Belgium

Fortress Belt of Antwerp

Sunday 8 September
Visit the forts of Antwerp on Sunday 8 September during European Fortress Day. Experienced guides take you through the hidden parts of the forts and ask them everything you want to know! The 5 open forts are: Spoorwegfort Duffel, Hoboken Fort 8, Fort 2 Wommelgem, Fort Walem, Schans Landmolen . Activities include guided tours, bat stories, folk games, exhibitions or an adventure trail.

History
After the emergence of Belgium, a new defense concept was sought for the country without natural defenses. They chose Antwerp as National Reduit, a place where the king and government could defend themselves until the allies came to the rescue. The old Spanish city wall was replaced by a large wall and 8 advanced brick forts in a circle around the city. These brick forts were supplemented at the end of the 19th century with concrete armor forts and ramps at a greater distance. Antwerp was protected by a double forts belt of a total of 35 forts and 12 ramps. During the First World War the forts were defended to the limit but had to give way under heavy bombing. After the Second World War, the forts were given a new function and became oases of nature and tranquility. The province of Antwerp has been actively committed to the forts for years.

Today Suomenlinna is a home for 800 residents and a working place for 300-500 people.

On European Fortress Day 5 September visitors will have a chance to interact with landscape maintenance and conservation architecture professionals on a tour around the fortress. During the day participants will also have a chance to visit venues at the fortress that are normally closed to public.

Finland

Suomenlinna fortress

Thursday 5 September

World Heritage Site Suomenlinna is a cultural treasure. In 1991, the Suomenlinna fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique monument of military architecture. Another special feature of the fortress is that in the course of its history it has served in the defense of three realms: Sweden, Russia and Finland. Opened to public gradually after Finnish independence in 1920’s, administrated until 1973 by Finnish Army, Suomenlinna has been developed according to a master plan combining the conservation of the monument and its cultural landscape and the active reuse of the site as a vital part of the city of Helsinki. Today, the fortress and its museums, restaurants and events are a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. Moreover, it continues to be a living, tended and inhabited district of Finnish Capital Helsinki.

History
Situated on a group of islands off Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago Fleet. Work on the fortress began in 1748. Swedish era of the fortress continued for 60 years until 1808, when Viapori was besieged by the Russian forces in the Russo-Swedish war. In 1808 Viapori along with its ships and equipment was transferred under the rule of the Russian Imperial Government. The following year, Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia, but Viapori remained a military base under Russian administration. With the Russian Revolution and Finland’s independence in 1917, Viapori was taken over by the newly founded Finnish government in 1918 and renamed Suomenlinna (‘Castle of Finland’).

Besides the re-enactment, on the day the public will be allowed to visit Upper Fort St Angelo, which is administered by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (the Order of St John) as well as the Fort’s interpretation centre and dioramas. This year’s event will coincide with the closing of an ongoing temporary exhibition on site ‘Behind Closed Doors Fort St Angelo & the Royal Navy 1906-1979’ to commemorate the 40th anniversary from the departure of the last foreign military forces from Malta.

Malta

Fort St. Angelo

Sunday 8 September
Since 1887, Fort St Angelo was open to the general public (whilst still a military establishment), for civilians to visit and commemorate the victory of the Great Siege of 1565 every 8th of September. Following the restoration of this national icon in 2015, Heritage Malta has revived this tradition which attracts numerous visitors. On the day, several re-enactment groups portraying Medieval, Early Modern & World War 2 periods animate the venue. With the participation of other local groups and the National Festivities Committee, a parade takes place to commemorate the end of the Great Siege.

History
Fort St Angelo dates back to at least 1241 (then known as Castrum Maris). Over the years it has been constantly upgraded to reflect the military technology of different periods until it was transformed from a medieval castle to a gunpowder fortress in 1690 through the intervention of the military engineer Carlos Grunenbergh. Over the centuries it was pivotal in various battles and sieges including the Great Siege of 1565 when it was the place of last resort in the battle between the Ottomans and the Knights of St John. During the 19th century it was run by the British Army and solidified as the main guardian of the Grand Harbour, with constant change in its artillery. In 1906, obsolete in military relevance of the day, it was taken over by the British Royal Navy and used as a shore establishment. On 31 March 1979 it was the last place vacated by British Forces on Malta.

Friday 27th September: tangible meets the intangible heritage: visitors will enjoy in a remarkable cultural programme on St. Michael’s Fortress – an evening performance of Choral Society of Šibenik “Kolo“.
Saturday 28th September: visitors will be able to experience and understand the importance of cultural heritage through interactive educational workshops on Barone Fortress. Workshops are designed to aid the learning of history of Šibenik and its fortresses.
Sunday 29th September: celebration of St. Michael – the protector of City of Šibenik. Both St. Michael’s and Barone Fortress will be opened to general public. Visitors will be able to experience history by using augmented reality devices, while their reality is expanded by computer generated image and sound.

 

Croatia

St. Michael’s Fortress & Barone Fortress

27 – 29 September
During the three-day program of the EFD 2019 in Šibenik, visitors will be able to experience high-quality cultural programs and enjoy in variety of contents that, both, St. Michael’s and Barone Fortress offer.

History
St. Michael’s Fortress is located on a strategically extremely favorable position, halfway between the antique centres Zadar and Split, in the protected mouth of the Krka river and near all of the important transportation roads in Dalmatia. Built on a 60-foot-high steep cliff, the middle fort of the fortress was the most important point of the defense system of the city. In its underground, Fortress preserves historic structures such as a baker’s oven and two old water tanks dating back to the 15th century. The fortress is completely renovated.

Barone Fortress was built in 1646 on an 80-meter-high hill above the city. Along with the other three fortresses in Šibenik, it represents a part of the unique defence system which resisted the enemies of the city for centuries. Today, it has an exceptional monumental value recognized across Europe. The Fortress is a unique cultural tourism attraction daily accessible to visitors.

The stately citadel of Blaye is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful Vauban locations. City walls, fortified gates, barracks, prison, roadblock, are all examples of the defense system that you can admire along the route. To find out more about the history and heritage of Blaye, you can visit the Museum of Art and History of Pays Blayais, with various collections, a tour of the citadel and the underground corridors; or you can opt for an explained tour with the tourist train.

 

France

Twelve groups of fortified buildings

September 2019

Visit a fort of the Vauban network in the September month. Most of them are daily accessible for visitors. The 12 sites selected to be part of the World Heritage are: Arras (citadel), Besançon (citade, city walls and Fort Griffon), Blaye-Cussac-Fort-Médoc (citadel of Blaye, city walls, Fort Paté and Fort Médoc), Briançon (city walls, Redoute des Salettes, Fort des Trois-Têtes, Fort du Randouillet, ouvrage de la communication Y and the Asfeld Bridge), Camaret-sur-Mer (Golden Tower), Longwy (ville neuve), Mont-Dauphin (place forte), Mont-Louis: citadel and city walls), Neuf-Brisach (ville neuve), Saint-Martin-de-Ré (city walls and citadel), Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue/Tatihou (watchtowers) and Villefranche-de-Conflent (city walls, Fort Libéria and Cova Bastera).

History
Fortifications of Vauban consists of 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the western, northern and eastern borders of France. They represent the finest examples of the work of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a military engineer of King Louis XIV. The serial property includes towns built from scratch by Vauban, citadels, urban bastion walls and bastion towers. There are also mountain forts, sea forts, a mountain battery and two mountain communication structures. This property is inscribed as bearing witness to the peak of classic fortifications, typical of western military architecture. Vauban also played a major role in the history of fortification in Europe and on other continents until the mid-19th century.