In the 15th century, engineers have to imagine a defensive way to counter the evolution of artillery. After a lot of trial and error, they work out a new fortification scheme based on two principles: a rampart filled up with hard-packed earth and a bastion fort to eliminate blind spots. The St Elme Citadel which was erected in 1557 is the perfect example of this achievement.
It was originally constructed to defend the place against maritime invasion. Whilst the war was raging on our shoreline in 1543, Barbarossa and 110 galley ships landed in Villefranche and burned down everything on their way.
Following the incorporation of Savoy into France in 1860, the Citadel was used as a military barracks to house the 24th Battalion of Alpine hunters -the mountain infantry. The citadel was then purchased by the city council in 1965. Restoration work started in 1979. Since1981, the Citadel has housed the Town Hall and a cultural centre (museums, auditorium, open- air theatre)See the site