Besançon is built in a loop of the Doubs river, so it is almost entirely surrounded by water. On the top of the hill there is an enormous fortress built by Vaudan - the Citadelle. I made my way up there on foot, but there is a little tourist "train" which you can take. The entrance ticket allows you to visit the various museums, walk along the battlements and even into the zoo. In pre-Roman times, the Gallic population had a settlement in the loop, with a stone, wood and mud wall of protection, a necropolis along the riverside, a small bridge across the river and a few houses up on the rock too. The Romans made Vesontio into an important city, with a triumphal arch (still there), palaces, villas, a large arena and forum, and built a stone bridge and stone walls to protect it from enemy attacks and from flooding. In the Middle Ages, the main entrance to the town was over the hill and through the arch, a lot of the churches built then have used the blocs of stone which made up the Roman buildings. The stone Roman bridge had to be replaced after damage during the 39-45 war. It was so low that the town had been regularly flooded, so the new bridge was a necessary change.
The Citadelle was built in the 17th century by Vauban, architect to Louis XIV, as a military fort and is now a memorial and cultural area. Apart from the zoo, there is a nocturama, an insect house, a little farm where goats and other animals are just waiting to be stroked and cuddled, a museum of local history and customs, another on the resistance and deportation and a handful of cafes and restaurants. Besançon itself is an interesting town with several other museums - among them the Museum of Time which is in the Palais Grenvelle - and a cathedral at the bottom of the Citadelle hill, where at ten to six, you can go into the room at the bottom of the bell-tower and see the astronomical clock chime the hour. Dials indicate the time in different parts of the world, the zodiac signs, seasons, phases of the moon, high and low tides in different places and, on the hour, the ropes ring the bells, statues of saints come and go, angels turn about, Mary lowers her sceptre and a coffin opens and Jesus rises – amazing! For more info - [--]
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