Sedan, France – On Wednesday, September 13, during the broadcast of the “Favorite Monument of the French 2023” on France 3, the Sedan Fortress, located in the Grand Est region, was declared the most cherished monument by the French. This medieval colossus, nicknamed “the giant of the Ardennes,” won the hearts of the public, surpassing prestigious competitors such as the Royal Castle of Blois (Centre-Val de Loire), the National Library of France at Richelieu (Île-de-France), and the Abbey of Cluny (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté).
A giant of stone in the heart of history
Erected in 1424 on the orders of Evrard II de La Marck, the Sedan Fortress, with its monumental scale, remains the largest fortress in Europe. Its imposing silhouette, characterized by walls reaching over 25 meters in thickness at certain points, offers a journey through six centuries of history. Presented to King Louis XIII in 1642, the fortress expanded over time to cover a colossal area of 35,000 square meters, spread across seven levels.
Classified as a historical monument since 1965, the Sedan Fortress provides an exceptional panorama of the town of Sedan while housing numerous areas to explore, including the bastions, the Princes’ gallery, and the Column Hall.
A condensation of military architecture
Stéphane Bern, the host of the show, described the Sedan Fortress as a “fairy tale castle” and a “showcase of military architecture.” This fortress, constructed between the 15th and 19th centuries, bears witness to an era of transformations and rivalries between the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire. It attained sovereignty in 1549 during the reign of King Henri II (1547-1559) and maintained this status for a century.
From the 15th to the 17th century, the princes and princesses of Sedan progressively transformed what was once a simple manor into an imposing stone colossus, housing 35,000 square meters of space spread across seven levels, with walls exceeding 25 meters in thickness. Even the troops of Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1520 to 1558, yielded before this impregnable fortress. In 1642, the Sedan Fortress was integrated into France and became occupied by the French army.
A witness to history
The history of the Sedan Fortress is rich with significant events. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, it witnessed the French defeat in the Battle of Sedan, marked by the raising of the white flag on its ramparts, signifying the surrender of Napoleon III, the Emperor of the French (1852-1870). Nearly a century later, in 1962, the municipality acquired the fortress for a symbolic euro. Since then, it has come to life throughout the year, immersing visitors in its history and the daily life of the princes of Sedan.
An enriching tourist destination
Today, the Sedan Fortress offers a unique experience to visitors, including knight tournaments, nighttime torch-lit tours, and a medieval festival. In 2023, the site has already welcomed over 100,000 visitors. Melaine du Merle, the director of the fortress, expresses his pride and hope that this victory will grant the Sedan Fortress national and even international recognition. There is no doubt that many curious individuals will come to discover this Ardennes gem during the International Heritage Days on Saturday, September 16, and Sunday, September 17.
For more information about the Sedan Fortress and its activities, visit the official website of the Sedan Fortress.