Like St. Louis, Paris is multi-layered. One of the sights that I was not going to miss out on are the original foundations of the Louvre fortress, which are now viewable after being buried for centuries under the courtyard of the eastern portion of the famous palace.
This helpful illustration that somehow photographed well above shows just how the original fortress was integrated into the Phillip II walls of the city, as well as how the modern Louvre sits on top of its ruins. It’s not much dissimilar to how the Castello Sforzesco in Milan lies in the path of the former walls of that city.
Unlike your stereotypical castle in the mind of Americans, French fortresses typically possessed towers that rose to the same height of the walls, as we see in the heavily French influenced Angevin fortification of the Castel Nuovo in Naples.
St. Louis, of course, once had fortifications around it in the Revolutionary War period, with Fort San Carlos, and then during the Civil War, where there were a series of forts built in the style of the time of dirt reinforced with wood timbers. These ruins, part of the Louvre art museum exhibits, reminded me to look below ground here in St. Louis.
For the life of us, we could not find the ruins of the Bastille, the fortress and later infamous prison that guarded the eastern approaches of Paris upriver on the Seine River. The subway station where the ruins are most easily viewed had received new entrance and exit designations, causing the access to the displays to be unreachable the day we visited. Next time, perhaps.
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This was a great surprise when we visited. I really enjoyed learning about and seeing these massive foundations. Too bad STL can’t do the same somewhere…
It could certainly be done. I recently walked by the foundations of a building that had been buried under the widening of Olive Street in downtown St. Louis in front of the Central Library. There are all sorts of opportunities if we look for them.