Belfort is a commune
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

 in the Territoire de Belfort
Territoire de Belfort
The Territoire de Belfort is a department in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France.-Administration:Its departmental code is 90, and its prefecture is Belfort...

 department in Franche-Comté in northeastern France and is the prefecture
A prefecture is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.-Antiquity:...

 of the department. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône
Rhône River
The Rhone is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland and running from there through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone...

 – the Belfort Gap
Belfort Gap
The Belfort Gap is a plateau located between the northern end of the Jura Mountains and the southernmost part of the Vosges mountains. Its altitude varies between 345 meters at its lowest and a little more than 400 meters in the area of the watershed between the catchment areas of the Rhine and...

 (Trouée de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne).
Belfort's strategic location, in a natural gap between the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 and the Jura
Jura mountains
The Jura Mountains are a small mountain range located north of the Alps, separating the Rhine and Rhone rivers and forming part of the watershed of each...

, on a route linking the Rhine and the Rhône, has attracted human settlement and made it a target for armies.

The site of Belfort was inhabited in Gallo-Roman
Gallo-Roman culture
The term Gallo-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman mores and way of life in a uniquely Gaulish context...

 times and was subsequently recorded in the 13th century as a possession of the counts of Montbéliard
Montbéliard is a city in the Doubs department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It is one of the two subprefectures of the department.-History:...

, who granted it a charter in 1307.

Previously an Austrian possession, Belfort was transferred to France by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), that ended the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....