Porte Saarelouis - ThionvillePorte Saarelouis - Thionville
©Porte Saarelouis - Thionville|STEPHANE THEVENIN

Le Couronné de Yutz

From 1746 to 1752, Louis de Cormontaigne completed the city’s defense system with the Couronné de Yutz. Three bastions, two half-moons and the monumental Porte de Sarrelouis were added on the right bank. The fortification canal was dug and defended by two lock bridges, enabling the area to be flooded in the event of an enemy invasion. The only place in Lorraine where such an ingenious and rare device can be found is Verdun.

Other well-hidden buildings, such as a horse infirmary (now a RecyThi solidarity store) and a 19th-century cavalry riding school, are a reminder of themilitary utility of this area. Keep your eyes peeled!

A fortification

in the shape of a crown

The Yutz for tification is so named because of its crown-like shape. It follows the theories and numerous constructions of Vauban, who warned of the importance of protecting the right bank. The Thionville project was not to be taken up again almost 50 years later. This new line of fortifications includes three bastions, the Sarrelouis gate and a diversion canal. The latter will be enhanced by two lock bridges! Vegetation covers almost the entire fortification.

The Sarrelouis Gate

The Sarrelouis Gate is the compulsory entrance to the town. It is accessed via Basse-Yutz. Unlike its ancestors from the reign of the Sun King, the gate is very sober and unattractive. The 18th century was more about utility than decoration, and the sovereigns who accompanied this Age of Enlightenment did not convey the same image or taste for staging as their predecessors.

As a result, the only mouldings to be found on the pediments and cornices are those of the door. Today, this gate is difficult to read, as during theGerman Annexation, it was heavily modified and transformed into a bunker. There were several reasons for this, including practicality in the event of a riot, and the symbolism of a military presence.

Sluice bridges

A rare architectural landmark in France, these bridges were built on the Moselle diversion canal in 1746. Their primary purpose was to limit the overflow of the Moselle and control river traffic. Their second mission was to enable the crossing of this new small river. Last but not least, to provide additional storage space for military equipment and food stocks.

Beyond their peaceful appearance, the two lock bridges could unleash the elements in the event of an attack and become real defensive assets for Thionville. In fact, the ingenious system of sluice gates enabled flooding upstream of the south bridge and the creation of a water reserve that could be released downstream of the north bridge.