Fort Aleth

Fort Aleth, locally known as Fort d'Aleth or Fort du Cité d'Aleth, lies in the Saint-Servan neighborhood of the city of Saint-Malo, in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in France.

The first users of the site of Fort Aleth, a promontory at the outlet of the Rance river opposite the island that would later become the city of Saint-Malo, were the Coriosolites, a Celtic people, who were known from Roman writings since the 1st century. By the late 4th century it was the site of a major Saxon Shore promontory fort. From this settlement grew a town, now a neighborhood called Saint-Servan, which would later be overshadowed and incorporated by Saint-Malo.

At the end of the 17th century the site, then known as Cité d'Aleth (the city of Aleth), had only some batteries to protect the entrance of the Rance. So when Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the famous military engineer, inspected the fortifications of Saint-Malo he gave the advice to fortify it because it without that the city would be at peril. It was only after several English incursions that the people of Saint-Malo listened to his advice and in 1759 the present artillery fort was built by the city's chief engineer.

At the end of the 19th century, as part of the complete overhaul of the defenses of Saint-Malo, Fort Aleth underwent major upgrades. But, due to the end of conflicts with England, the site was finally abandoned in 1914.

During WW II the fort was occupied by the German army. They heavily fortified it with an artillery battery, anti-aircraft batteries, barracks, 32 bunkers and 8 cast iron 'cloches' (firing positions rising just a meter above ground only accessible through a tunnel). All these fortifications were connected by more than 1300 meters of tunnels. The fort became the center of Festung Saint-Malo, from which the German Colonel Andreas von Aulock commanded the defense of Saint-Malo.

After the Normandy landings in June 1944 the Allies underestimated the German defense of Saint-Malo. They first tried to take it with 2 infantry assaults causing large losses on the Allied side. After that they resorted to bombings and artillery fire from land and sea. It took 8 days of intensive shelling before the Germans in the fort finally surrendered.

At present Fort Aleth can freely be visited. There is a '39-'45 Memorial museum in one of the German bunkers. A nice fort with great views over the surrounding coastline and the city of Saint-Malo. The Solidor Tower is nearby. Also the beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo itself, with its castle and several forts (amongst them Fort National and Fort Petit-Bé) is very much worth your visit.


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Fort Aleth

Fort Aleth, locally known as Fort d'Aleth or Fort du Cité d'Aleth, lies in the Saint-Servan neighborhood of the city of Saint-Malo, in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in France.

The first users of the site of Fort Aleth, a promontory at the outlet of the Rance river opposite the island that would later become the city of Saint-Malo, were the Coriosolites, a Celtic people, who were known from Roman writings since the 1st century. By the late 4th century it was the site of a major Saxon Shore promontory fort. From this settlement grew a town, now a neighborhood called Saint-Servan, which would later be overshadowed and incorporated by Saint-Malo.

At the end of the 17th century the site, then known as Cité d'Aleth (the city of Aleth), had only some batteries to protect the entrance of the Rance. So when Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the famous military engineer, inspected the fortifications of Saint-Malo he gave the advice to fortify it because it without that the city would be at peril. It was only after several English incursions that the people of Saint-Malo listened to his advice and in 1759 the present artillery fort was built by the city's chief engineer.

At the end of the 19th century, as part of the complete overhaul of the defenses of Saint-Malo, Fort Aleth underwent major upgrades. But, due to the end of conflicts with England, the site was finally abandoned in 1914.

During WW II the fort was occupied by the German army. They heavily fortified it with an artillery battery, anti-aircraft batteries, barracks, 32 bunkers and 8 cast iron 'cloches' (firing positions rising just a meter above ground only accessible through a tunnel). All these fortifications were connected by more than 1300 meters of tunnels. The fort became the center of Festung Saint-Malo, from which the German Colonel Andreas von Aulock commanded the defense of Saint-Malo.

After the Normandy landings in June 1944 the Allies underestimated the German defense of Saint-Malo. They first tried to take it with 2 infantry assaults causing large losses on the Allied side. After that they resorted to bombings and artillery fire from land and sea. It took 8 days of intensive shelling before the Germans in the fort finally surrendered.

At present Fort Aleth can freely be visited. There is a '39-'45 Memorial museum in one of the German bunkers. A nice fort with great views over the surrounding coastline and the city of Saint-Malo. The Solidor Tower is nearby. Also the beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo itself, with its castle and several forts (amongst them Fort National and Fort Petit-Bé) is very much worth your visit.


Gallery