As if the formidable defences of the Pont Couverts weren't enough, the people of Strasbourg deployed a further deterrent - a barrage across the river ill that let no ship pass by. Several stories high already, another level was added in 1865. In the modern era, when the Swiss were no longer deemed a threat, this top level was turned into an observation deck. The barrage provides the finest views in the city by far.
The Barrage (dam) Vauban (aka the great lock) was built around 1690, using the plans from the king's Louis XiV architect Vauban (thus the name).
It was intended to reinforce the town's security : the gates on the water (under the 'bridge') could be closed to block the invaders' boats and the soldiers could turrn on the water works to slow down the pedestrian troups.
If you have a closer look at the photo, you will notice that 3 arches are higher than the others : in the 18th century, the neighbourhood's peasants noticed that each spring, their fields were overflowded when the snow melted : the "blocking function'" was working a bit too well. After years of discussions, the military authorities accepted to give some more room to the water flood.
Nowadays, a panoramic terrace occupies the top of the dam and the rooms inside hold rotating exhibitions (sculpture, mineralogy, moden art ...).
The Barrage Vauban (Vauban dam) was built later, again as a protection against any attack of the city coming by the river. It is not really a dam but a building built across the river. Heavy iron gates could be lowered to forbid the passage of any boat on the Ill.
They can be visited and offer a nice view on the Petite France.
The first photo shows a typical building of Strasbourg, with several levels (two or three) of dormer windows. As the place was a swamp, no goods could be kept underground and they had to be kept in attics that had several levels. Until the 19th, the windows were not fitted with glasses for better air drying.
Strasbourg is also home to some beautiful bridges, including the medieval Ponts Couverts.
A few meters from the Covered Bridges is the Vauban Barrage (Vauban Dam wall). It allowed the whole south front of the city to be flooded when needed and was built around the year 1690.
At the summit of the structure is a grassy panoramic terrace, from which you get great views of the Cathedral in the distance, the city skyline and the canals.
You can also walk through the insides of the bridge (but not exit at the other end) which contain many stone relics, some of which had toppled off the Cathedral over time, and been replaced by replicas, with the originals resting behind wire fences inside this covered bridge.
Accessible every day (except 14 and 15/07 because of the Bastille Day fireworks from the top) from 9am to 7.30 pm. Free entry.
The most famous landmark in Petit France Quarter are the Covered Bridges (Ponts Couverts), their three defensive towers and the Barrage Vauban.
The Barrage Vauban is a defensive dam built on the river Ill in the 17th century. On its top, from the Terrase Panoramique, you can see the Petit France with its houses reflected in the still waters, the Covered Bridges, the towers and the spire of the Cathedral in the background (see my first picture in this section)
Useful info - there are toilets inside the barrage (just in case).
Barrage Vauban (Vauban´s Dam) or Le Grande Ecluse (Big Lock).
The dam was built in the 17th century on the River Ill, which runs through the city. It was built to control the river, but also as a defense against invading forces. It was based on the plans of Sebastien Vauban (1633-1707), a soldier, military engineer and (late in life) Marshal of France, whose fortifications and revolutionary ideas in siege warfare had great influence in the reign of king Louis XIV. From the top of the barrage is a great view of Strasbourg.