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updated: 06.02.2023 10:33:28
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Hard to find for those not familiar with the area, one of the largest European fortifications of the 17th century is situated on a peninsular mountain at the narrowest point of the Mosel loop near Traben-Trarbach. The French Sun King Louis XIV commissioned the construction of a veritable monster of a fortification by his architect Vauban between the years 1687 – 1692. It was conceptualized as the base of operations and supply depot for the Rhine Army, impregnable and feared on account of the raids which took place from here, making the Eifel and Hunsrück areas and the Mosel valley an unsafe place.
The fortifications consisted of a core fortress, military and civilian buildings and a garrison of 8,450 men, the Great Royal Headquarters on the fortress approach, a huge barracks to accommodate a further 12,000 soldiers, the fort town with its civilian population, the riverside fortification on the left hand bank of the Mosel and as a counterpoint fortress on the opposite side of the river, the Grevenburg castle.
Only 10 years after construction was begun, as a result of the Peace Treaty of Rijswijck in 1697, Mont Royal was surrendered and razed to the ground, so that today only the subterranean remains are witness to how big and mighty the fortification used to be.
At the beginning of the last century (between 1929 – 1938), under the direction of the local historian Dr. Ernst W. Spies and based on original ground plans from Paris military archives, excavations were carried out and interesting relics were uncovered (including flank batteries, case-mates, vaulted cellar, battlements, wells, defence trenches etc.). On a tour of the excavation site, we gain an insight into the exciting history of this short-lived and yet highly significant French Mosel fortification and at the same time enjoy breathtaking views over the Mosel valley, the Eifel and the Hunsrück.
Source: Lutz Reichardt - Freunde und Förderer Festung Mont Royal e.V.