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Pavillon A.T.M.
1, allée de Verdun - 04200 Sisteron
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Fax 04 92 61 29 54

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Texts by E. Robert

The upper rampart

Photo The upper rampart

Perched on the rocky crest, the upper rampart represented in the Middle Ages the northern front of the surrounding wall. It was part of the Citadel in the XVIth century and then enlarged at the end of the XVIIth with a series of arched pillars providing the Citadel with its characteristic look.

The powder store

Photo the powder store

Built by Vauban, according to his plans, after he visited the Citadel in 1692, the powder store and the well are all that remain of his ambitious and original project. Smaller than standard powder stores, it is not strengthened by side pillars and consists of two beautiful vaulted rooms one above the other. Ventilation is provided by air vents. Recently restored, the powder store is now open to the public.

The underground stairs

Photo the  underground stairs

These very impressive stairs were carved into the rock around 1840/1845. They were intended to connect the Citadel and the northern gate of the town, the Dauphiné gate, destroyed during the bombing of the city in August 1944. Totalling 258 steps, they are pierced by several embrasures giving light and used for gun firing.

Devil’s sentry- box

Photo devil’s sentry- box

The most spectacular sentry-box of the Citadel, it appears as the figurehead of a galleon above the Durance River. It was built in the XIVth century, and remodelled in the XVIIth century. The legend tells that it could not have been built without the devil’s help who demanded the mason’s soul for his work.

The bartizan standing on the bastion over the Durance River and its “lady”.

Photo the bartizan standing on the bastion over the durance river and its “lady”.

This beautiful bartizan, dating back to the XVIth century, is exceptional because of its octagonal layout and its corbelled construction. It was used to control the northern glacis (steep slope) of the Citadel. In 1853, a “lady”, so called because it was impossible to “embrace” it (to walk around it), completed the whole defensive system of the bastion.

The Lady of the Castle Chapel

the castle chapel

It was built in the XVth century on a terrace propped by archways supported by sturdy pillars. Its double bay vessel opens onto a choir bathing in the light of seven windows. It is typical of the grand gothic era when ribbed vaults were decorated with ledges and capitals were covered with wide flat leaves. Very early on, the Chapel lost its religious role. In the XVIIth century, it was called a dungeon and cut up with wooden floors. It became the lodging for the King’s lieutenant. Later on, it was even turned into a jail. Restored around 1935, and equipped with stained-glass windows, it was almost destroyed in 1944. Only in 1970, was it decided to have it rebuilt under the pressure of renovations carried out by A.T.M. (Arts, Theatre, Monuments) in other parts of the fortress. In 1980, Our Lady of the Castle had recovered its shape, regained its strength, and its majesty thanks to a dazzling display of highly symbolic stained-glass windows, work of the artist Claude Courageux, Master Glassmaker. Today the Chapel hosts some prestigious exhibits and holds a bookshop of publications about the area. Once a year, on 14 August, a mass is celebrated in memory of war victims.

The open air theatre

Photo du théâtre de verdure

The open-air theatre (1500 seats) was built in 1928 on the terraced bastions of the northern face of the Citadel. In the background, the impressive rampart and its overlooking keep are silhouetted against the sky. In this sumptuous scenery, the most famous artists in music, dancing and theatre give every year remarkable performances in the summer Festival known as “les Nuits de la Citadelle” (Citadel Nights) one of the oldest Festivals in France.

The keep

Photo the keep

The belfry, or “clock tower”, sheltered the clock and the bell of the town in the XVth century. The original clock put up in 1402 showed 24 hours and was replaced by one indicating 12 hours. Recognised as a military building at the beginning of the XVIth century, the tower seems to have been used only as a prison. Prince Jean Casimir Vasa, future King of Poland, was imprisoned there by Richelieu from February to August 1639. His cell has been recreated.