Gravelines was first fortified by Charles V in the early 16th century, when a small fort was built to guard the western entrance of the town. The town was turned into a fortress in 1556 when an italianate bastioned trace of 6 bastions was constructed around the town.

Gravelines seen from the south. The channel at the back leads to the sea.

The French took Gravelines in 1658 and Vauban made some modifications to the fortifications in the late 17th century. During the wars against the English and Dutch, many privateers sailed from Gravelines and Dunkirk to harass enemy shipping.
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View from the south-west. Gravelines from the north.
The town seen from the north. Detail of the western outworks.
The citadel was incorperated into a bastion. Detail of the citadel-bastion.
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