At times, the enemy is very close at hand - or so thought King Louis XIV when he had this fortress built.

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Fort Saint Jean

A threat to the people.

The most disturbing thing about Fort Saint Jean is that its cannons point toward the city and not out to sea - because this was not a fortification designed to protect against external enemies but against King Louis XIV's own subjects. The king ordered its construction in 1660 as a warning to rebellious Marsellais who were agitating against the local governnment. Not that it ultimately did much good - this fort was overrun by revolutionary mobs in 1790, and later after the fall of Robespierre, Jacobin heads rolled in its courtyards. After so many bloody and militaristic centuries, since 2013 St. Jean is connected via air corridor with the exposition complex of the new Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, the first French national museum outside of Paris. A truly must-visit.

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