Belfort
Overview
 
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
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
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....

.
Encyclopedia
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
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).

History

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
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....

. The town's fortifications were extended and developed by the military architect Vauban
Vauban
Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban and later Marquis de Vauban , commonly referred to as Vauban, was a Marshal of France and the foremost military engineer of his age, famed for his skill in both designing fortifications and breaking through them...

 for Louis XIV.

Until 1871, Belfort was part of the département of Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...

, in Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

. The Siege of Belfort
Siege of Belfort
The Siege of Belfort was a 103-day military assault and blockade of the city of Belfort, France by Prussian forces during the Franco-Prussian War...

, between 3 November 1870 and 18 February 1871, was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

. Because this part of Alsace was French speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. It formed, as it still does, 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...

. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi
Frédéric Bartholdi
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a French sculptor who is best known for designing the Statue of Liberty.-Life and career:...

.

Alsatians who sought a new French home in Belfort made a significant contribution to its industry.

The town was bombarded by the Germans in World War I and occupied by them in World War II. In November 1944 the retreating German army held the French First Army
French First Army
The First Army was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.-First World War:...

 before the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November.

Economy

Belfort is a trading centre for wine and grain and its industries include chemicals, engineering, plastics and textiles. Belfort is also the hometown of Alstom
Alstom
Alstom is a large multinational conglomerate which holds interests in the power generation and transport markets. According to the company website, in the years 2010-2011 Alstom had annual sales of over €20.9 billion, and employed more than 85,000 people in 70 countries. Alstom's headquarters are...

 where the first TGVs (Trains Grande Vitesse) were produced. As well as of the GE Energy European headquarter and centre of excellence for the manufacturing of gas turbines.

Transport

The Gare de Belfort
Gare de Belfort
Gare de Belfort is the railway station serving the town Belfort, Territoire de Belfort department, eastern France. It is situated on the Paris–Mulhouse railway.-Services:Belfort was an interchange station for trains to Delle and on to Switzerland....

 railway station offers connections to Dijon, Mulhouse, Paris, Besançon, Nancy and several regional destinations.

Sights

  • Belfort is the home of the Lion of Belfort, a sculpture by Frédéric Bartholdi
    Frédéric Bartholdi
    Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a French sculptor who is best known for designing the Statue of Liberty.-Life and career:...

     expressing people's resistance against the siege in the Franco-Prussian War
    Franco-Prussian War
    The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

     (1870) – who shortly afterwards built the Statue of Liberty
    Statue of Liberty
    The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

     in New York.
  • The Belfort Cathedral, 18th century
  • There are also plenty of other things to see in a city that is trying and showing better its heritage, mainly the citadel, the old town and its museographic riches:
    • In 2007, the Belfort city museums are to be completely restructured within three main poles: history (from archeology to military) in the old barracks on the top of the citadel, arts (mainly from 16th to 19th century) in the Tour 41 and modern arts in the Donation Jardot.
    • Since July of the same year, a new touristic sight of the citadel has been opened to the public – with a sound-, video- and light-animated trail in the moats and the big underpass of the citadel. Its name: "La Citadelle de la Liberté" (Citadel of Liberty).

FIMU

Belfort is also well known for organizing a large-scale music festival in May each year. The Festival International de Musique Universitaire (FIMU) is home to nearly 2500 musicians, most of them students, from many different countries. The musicians give more than 250 concerts in the course of the 3-day festival in a wide variety of styles (classical, jazz, traditional, experimental, etc.). All of the concerts are free of charge and are performed at 14 different locations in the old city (the vieille ville) of Belfort. In 2004 more than 60,000 people attended the festival. In 2005 the festival was held on 14–16 May. This should not be confused with the Eurockeenes festival held there in July each year.

Events

  • The Eurockéennes
    Eurockéennes
    The Eurockéennes de Belfort is one of France's largest rock music festivals. The Eurockéennes, a play on words involving the words rock and européennes , is a festival based in a nature reserve in Malsaucy near Belfort...

     which is one of France's largest rock music festivals.
  • The Belfort Tattoo Convention which remains after 14 years of existence is the oldest convention of France.

Births

Belfort was the birthplace of:
  • François Joseph Heim
    François Joseph Heim
    François Joseph Heim was a French painter.He was born at Belfort. He early distinguished himself at the École Centrale of Strassburg, and in 1803 entered the studio of Vincent at Paris...

     (1787–1865), painter
  • Jules Brunet
    Jules Brunet
    Jules Brunet was a French officer who played an active role in Mexico and Japan, and later became a General and Chief of Staff of the French Minister of War in 1898...

     (1838–1911), a member of the first French Military Mission to Japan
    French Military Mission to Japan (1867)
    The French Military Mission to Japan of 1867-68 was the first foreign military training mission to Japan. The mission was formed by Napoléon III, following a request of the Japanese Shogunate in the person of its emissary to Europe, Shibata Takenaka .Shibata was already negotiating the final...

     in order to help modernize the armies of the shogunate
  • Louis-Gabriel-Charles Vicaire
    Louis-Gabriel-Charles Vicaire
    Louis Gabriel Charles Vicaire was a French] poet.He was born at Belfort. He served in the campaign of 1870, and then settled in Paris to practise at the bar, which, however, he soon abandoned for literature....

     (1848–1900), poet
  • Tahar Rahim
    Tahar Rahim
    Tahar Rahim is a French actor of Algerian origin. Born in Belfort, France, his family is originally from the region of Oran, Algeria....

     (1981– ), actor
  • Raymond Forni
    Raymond Forni
    Raymond Forni was a French Socialist politician.-Biography:Son of an Italian immigrant, Raymond Forni was born in Belfort, in 1941. His father died when he was 11. At 17, he had to stop studying, and he started to work as an unskilled worker in Peugeot factories...

     (1941–2008), politician
  • Jean-Pierre Chevènement
    Jean-Pierre Chevènement
    Jean-Pierre Chevènement is a French politician. He was Minister of Defense from 1988 to 1991 and Minister of the Interior from 1997 to 2000. He was a presidential candidate in 2002 and since 2008 has been a member of the Senate....

     (9 mars 1939), politician
  • Gérard Grisey
    Gérard Grisey
    Gérard Grisey was a French composer of contemporary music.-Biography:Gérard Grisey was born in Belfort, France on 17 June 1946. He studied at the Trossingen Conservatory in Germany from 1963 to 1965 before entering the Conservatoire de Paris...

     (born 1946–1998), composer
  • Alexander Toponce
    Alexander Toponce
    Alexander Toponce was an American pioneer in the Intermountain West region of the United States.Toponce was born in Belfort, France. His family emigrated to the United States when he was seven...

     (1839–1923), American pioneer
    American pioneer
    American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European or American society, although the...

  • John Glele
    John Glélé
    John Glélé is a Beninese international footballer. He last played in Cyprus for Aris Limassol.- Career :Glélé began his career from En Avant Guingamp B and was in 2005 transferred to Amiens SC B. Than left the club 2007, he played the first half of the season 2007/2008 for Cowdenbeath F.C. and the...

    , footballer

Deaths

  • Léon Delarbre, painter – known from his drawings for the Shoah
    The Holocaust
    The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

     camps

Twin towns – Sister cities

Belfort is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Delémont
Delémont
Delémont is the capital of the Swiss canton of Jura. The city has approximately 11,000 inhabitants as of 2007.-Geography:Delémont lies southwest of Basel, about halfway between Basel and Bienne...

, Switzerland Leonberg
Leonberg
Leonberg is a town in the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg about 10 miles to the west of Stuttgart, the state capital. Approximately 45,000 people live in Leonberg, making it the third biggest borough in the rural district of Böblingen .Leonberg is most famous for its picturesque market...

, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine Stafford
Stafford
Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands region of England. It lies approximately north of Wolverhampton and south of Stoke-on-Trent, adjacent to the M6 motorway Junction 13 to Junction 14...

, United Kingdom Tanghin-Dassouri, Burkina Faso

External links

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