In 1697 the Treaty of Rijswijk stated that the town of Breisach
was to be taken from France and handed over to Austria. Breisach
was a fortified town situated on the RIGHT bank of the river
Rhine. Of course the French weren't happy about this as it made
France vulnerable to attack. So, King Louis XIV ordered Vauban
to correct this vulnerability. Under Vauban's direction, a whole
new fortress (with a brand new town plopped in the center) was
built from scratch on the LEFT side of the river Rhine. The name
of this new place? The not very creative name of Neuf-Brisach
(or Neu Breisach in German, meaning new Breisach).
Neuf-Brisach was built a half-mile from the left bank of the
river Rhine. Why not on the left bank of the Rhine? Ironically,
years earlier Vauban was the one responsible for upgrading Breisach's
fortifications and thus knew it would be fruitless to build directly
on the left bank as Breisach sat on higher ground on the right
side meaning it would retain superiority. Upon completion Neuf-Brisach was regarded as the
strongest fortress in Europe.
I'm disappointed in the visit to Neuf-Brisach
because many of the layers of
fortifications have been allowed to succumb
to vegetation overgrowth. It makes
me think the locals have no clue as to what they have. Be sure
here to see an aerial view of the octagon-shaped fortress.
The town has a spiffy museum devoted
mostly to Vauban and World War II. The Nazis occupied the fort
during the war until it was liberated by Americans (note the
concrete pillbox guarding one
of the town's entrances).