Calais seen from the south. The citadel is on the left.

The important coastal town of Calais was first fortified in the 13th century. After a 200-year period of English occupation, the town was captured by the French in 1558. After the French recapture, a strong citadel was built to the west of the town.

The town was also fortified with bastions at around this time. The citadel was improved by Errard in the early 17th century and again by Vauban in the 1690s. Fort Risban was protected the harbour entrance of this important coastal town. The fort grew up out of a medieval tower built by the English. It is was expanded in the 15th century and given two demi-bastions by Vauban in the late 17th century.

Another feature in the defences of Calais were the inundations that could be created to flood the approaches to the town. These relied on sluice gates being opened before an attacker could capture them. Vauban built Fort Nieulay (see right) to the west of the town to protect these sluice gates.

Fort Nieulay, to the west of the town. Note the cannal running through the fort.

Today, the defences of the town of Calais are long gone, but the citadel remains intact. Fort Nieulay was heavily damaged in the Second World War but has been restored to its former glory. Fort Risban was also heavily damaged but has been restored recently.
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Detail of the citadel viewed from the south. Detail of the eastern defences of the town.
Calais seen from the north. Fort Risban can be seen at the harbour entrance. Detail of the citadel viewed from the north.
The town and Fort Risban, seen from the north. View over the harbour entrance of the eastern side of the town and Fort Risban.
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