Belfort Tourist Attractions
The town of Belfort on the river Savoureuse, capital of the Territoire de Belfort, was an important fortress controlling the Trouée de Belfort, the Belfort Gap, a key-point on the route between the Vosges and the Jura. Until 1870-1871 it belonged to the département of Haut-Rhin. Belfort has important textile and engineering industries. For many centuries the destinies of the town turned on its geographical situation. Until the 14th C it belonged to the Counts of Måmpelgard (Montbéliard). From 1350 to 1639 it was held by the Habsburgs; then in 1648, under the Peace of Westphalia, it was assigned to France. Vauban surrounded the town with fortifications which helped it to withstand a 103-day siege during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
The present-day town of Belfort is divided into two parts. The central feature of the old town, on the left bank of the Savoureuse, is the Place de la République, with the large Monument des Trois Sièges by the Colmar sculptor A.-F. Bartholdi (completed in 1904 by his pupils), commemorating the three sieges of 1813-1814, 1815 and 1870-1871. On the north side of the square is the Palais de Justice (1901), on the south side the Prefecture. To the east, in the Place d'Armes, are the parish church of St-Christophe (1725-1750), with a beautiful interior, and the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) of 1784.
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire
On a 70 m/230ft high crag is a 13th C castle in Belfort, rebuilt by Vauban as a citadel, much of which was pulled down in the 19th C. The surviving part, known as the Château, now houses the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, with an important collection of material on local history (Bronze and Iron Age weapons, Neolithic, Gallo-Roman and Frankish jewellery and ornaments), a collection of pictures (including works by Signac, Vlaminck, Utrillo, Courbet and Rodin) and models of the Vauban fortifications.From the Château there are extensive views over the Jura and the Vosges.
Lion of Belfort
In Belfort, northeast of the Museum, is the Porte de Brisach (1687), a relic of the old fortifications. From the Porte de Brisach a street runs round the ramparts to the imposing Lion of Belfort hewn from red Vosges sandstone by Bartholdi in 1875-1880 to commemorate the siege of 1870-1871.