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  • Writer's pictureIsabel

The citadel in France once occupied by Julius Caesar is now home to Lions | Besancon, France

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

This fortress in France, comes from the 17th Century, located on Mount Saint-Etienne in the city of Besancon. In early times the location was occupied by Julius Caesar which emphasizes the importance of this site. The view over the city Franche-Comté as well as the river Doubs is spectacular! It is one of the most expensive constructions in France and has been used in various ways over the years, giving it great historic and cultural importance.

Some history

During WW1 the Citadel was left untouched due to its geographic emplacement. During WW2 Germans occupied the Citadel in 1940. During 1941 and 1944 the area was used as a prison and resistance fighters were executed here. It then was taken over by the Americans before it became a military depot. By 1958 the Citadel was once again in the hands of the French government and it was at that time that it was transformed into a tourist site.

In the Citadel itself there are different attractions to visit, such as the following:

- Museum of resistance and deportation

- Archeological site

- Zoo and aquarium,

- Botanical garden

- Restaurant and shop


Opening times: 09:00 - 18:00 (seasonal changes)

Price: Euro 10.-

For more detailed information click here.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The Museum of resistance and deportation offers a great insight into the historical use of this location and its happenings which are of great importance.

Walking around the whole Citadel is very impressive! The truly unique attraction here, is the “zoo integrated into the castle”. Bellow you will see pictures of the different animals. Most animals walk around freely, such as the different monkeys. Of course the lions and other animals have gates around them. I must add, this is unlike any other zoo. The animals truly have a freedom of walking around the location, which is extremely respectful of the animal. In the end you have visitors and animals walking around the Citadel simultaneously, it’s incredibly beautiful to see!

As someone who is not very keen about zoos due to the fact that it is perverse in my opinion to lock up a “living being” behind bars for the entertainment of the “human being”, I find it very respectful towards the animals, to see how freely they can walk around in this Citadel. This topic is one which still needs a lot of attention in western countries, therefore to give imported animals this freedom in a western country is already a great step forward.

Impressions of the Citadel

Impressions of the integrated zoo

Impressions of the aquarium

Military Engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban

An area so rich in culture and history located in such a breathtaking area makes it a truly incredible place to visit! The free space between human and animal in this Citadel is extremely unique and unlike any other site I’ve seen!

We are generation change!

Enjoy! Yours truly,

© Isabel Buchbinder




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