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The Tour Royal, Toulon (16th century)

The Tour Royale (also known as La Grosse Tour) is a fort built in the 16th century to protect the entrance of the Petit Rade, the naval port of Toulon. It was the first fortification of the harbor, built 22 years after Provence became a part of France; commissioned by King Louis XII and constructed in 1513 by the Italian engineer Gio Anton della Porta.[1]

Because of the width of the harbor entrance, Cardinal Richelieu had another battery, Fort Ballaguier, constructed opposite the Tour Royale in 1634.

In 1700 the French military engineer Vauban made the fort one of the strong points of his extensive syystem of fortifications of the Port. He recommended adding another level of cannons, and a new battery at the foot of the tower, and lowering the hills around to give the gunners a clearer view of approaching enemy ships. [2]

The Tour was equipped with forty cannon, but Vauban's other improvements were not carried out. Nonetheless, in 1707, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the Tour helped Toulon to successfully resist a combined attack and siege by a British-Dutch fleet and the army of Eugene of Savoy.

The Tour Royale is located at the southernmost point on the east side of the harbor entrance, near the base of the long jetty that now closes the harbor.

After the 18th century, the tower was largely used as a prison.

During the Franco-German War of 1870, the gold reserves of France were secretly stored inside the fort.

The Tour Royale is still a military installation and is closed to the public, but the city of Toulon is constructing a park around the fort, and connecting it to the coastal path along the harbor and coastline.


  1. ^ Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon - port royal 1481-1789, Tallandier, 2002.
  2. ^ Vauban a Toulon - l'arsenal et la rade (see bibliography)


  • Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon, port royal 1481-1789, Tallandier, Paris 2002
  • Vauban a Toulon - l'arsenal et la rade. (Catalog of exhibit). Musée Balaguier, Musée national de la Marine 2007.

Coordinates: 43°6′10″N 5°55′33″E / 43.10278°N 5.92583°E / 43.10278; 5.92583



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