Art & Architecture

article | Reading time8 min

The defensive elements of the fortress

Systèmes défensifs extérieurs sud et ouest

Discover the fortress of Salses and its incredible defensive system.

Defensive elements

Two drawbridges and a drawbridge

Located on the south side, the main entrance to the fortress stands out for the complexity of its defensive system.

First sleeping bridge provides access to a barbican* attached to an advanced defensive element (or half-moon). ) by means of a drawbridge. A second sleeping bridge spanning the outer moat links this half-moon to the châtelet. entrance.

The entrance châtelet

This consists of two cylindrical turrets flanking a monumental door surmounted by a bas-relief, now badly eroded, possibly bearing the arms of the Catholic kings, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. The châtelet is surmounted by a horseman. carrying artillery pieces. Barred at both ends by two heavy cart doors, an angled passage links the châtelet to the parade ground. Equipped with interior loopholes, its angled shape slowed down attackers and prevented enfilade fire.

The ditches

Three ravelins are built in the ditches as advanced defensive works. Shaped like a half-moon, they feature a defensive spur to deflect frontal blows. They are linked to the main fortress by various systems: a standing bridge (half-moon entrance) and a semi-buried gallery or caponier. (half-moon to the southeast). Surrounded by a quarter-round parapet and equipped with gunboats, their summit platform could accommodate several artillery pieces.

Demi lune est
Demi lune est


Curtain walls and corner towers

Curtain walls are long perimeter walls with four corner towers. Their architecture was designed to keep pace with developments in artillery technology. From the mid-15th century onwards, short-range cannons firing stone cannonballs were gradually replaced by longer-range cannons using metal cannonballs to destroy the merlons. and machicolations located at the top of the curtain walls, causing major damage to the walls.

In response to these changes, a number of architectural innovations were introduced. The top of the curtain walls was given a rounded quarter to allow cannonballs to ricochet. It was also built in brick, a material that cushions the impact of cannonballs on stone, preventing it from shattering. The walls were also reinforced, increasing in thickness from 2-3 meters to 6-12 meters.

The curtain walls are flanked by four circular corner towers . The southwest and northwest towers are 21 meters high, while the southeast and northeast towers are 18 meters high. They feature a central well that serves as a freight elevator for artillery pieces, a vent for gunpowder fumes, and a megaphone. An artesian well fed by springs, provides the water needed to cool the cannons.

Each level is independent and communicates with the adjacent building, providing even greater resistance in the event of an enemy siege. The roof features a firing platform where artillery pieces were installed. Parapets crenellated with sentry boxes The corbelled parapets that encircled the summit platform have been replaced by low stone walls fitted with gunports.

Finally, the poternes opening onto the moat were condemned after the siege of 1503.

La forteresse et le village
La forteresse et le village

© Asphérie / Centre des monuments nationaux / FDS

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