On its headland, the Citadel is the defensive element of Mont-Louis.
From its creation in 1679 it has military vocation, it counts then 2500 soldiers.
Since 1964 it hosts the CNEC Centre National d'Entraînement Commando.
From now, the access is regulated: we can enter only accompanied by guides
and only during exclusive guided visits organized by our tourist information center.
According to the plans established by Vauban, the Citadel draws a square flanked by four bastions and covered by three half-moons. Its ramparts are surrounded by a drt ditch.
In the South, the Porte Royale, topped by a bell tower and a clock, communicates directly with the town. Whereas, in the North, opens an emergency exit towards the road of France.
Each one of these two doors were formely provided with a drawbridge.
Behind its defensive walls, barracks are joined to the ramparts and chambers are bent in case of coal nuts.
Facades open only on the yard of the Citadel. Planed to delete the servitude of the housing "at the inhabitant", barracks of Mont-Louis could welcome up to 2500 soldiers.
Firts of all were realized: two powder storage, the lieutenant du Roi house, the well and the church (given up at the French Revolution).
In the most protected area in the North of the Citadel, the well des Forçats (convicts) takes place in a vaulted room of 20m on 15m. Its roof is protected from coal nuts. The well was dug in the rock on a depth of about 28m of wich 12m of water.
Its mechanism with a wheel pulled an axis with a chain and two buckets. It fed in water the Citadel, and more particulary the handling and the kitchens. The drawn water was poured into ponds. Only one man was necesary to activate this "squirrel cage" mechanism. The effort to draw the water gave it its nickname of "convicts well" although there were never convicts in Mont-Louis!
Since 1830, the well has been used in a very irregular way because of its difficulty and little by little it has been abandoned to the benefit of the tap water.
Its excellent state of conservation allows it to be among the last three original wheels of this type in France with those of the Citadel of Besançon and the Mont-Saint-Michel.
In the 1950s, the very first solar furnace settled in the North area of the Citadel
to experiment the resistance of materials.
Afterward, it was moved on one of the bastions of the city
during the creation of the solar furnace of Odeillo in 1970.