History of Rodemack and its citadel

Vue arienne de Rodemack et de sa citadelle © Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs

Rodemack aerial view and its citadel
© Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs

Nestled in the heart of this Tri-country Border region, next to Luxembourg and Germany, those visiting Rodemack’s medieval city will discover its impressive citadel and its town encircled by a 700-meter rampart outer wall.

Bordered by the old Roman road linking Metz to Trèves, which leads to the belief that a Gallo-Roman fort once stood on the site, the known history of Rodemack only dates back to the tenth century. A fortified castle was built there in 1190 by Arnold I, the second lord of Rodemack. Rodemack’s lords were well-known because of the fortress until the fifteenth century during which the town’s outer walls were built to protect the population, with access points at the Sierck and Thionville Gates.

The last lord of the town, Gerard de Rodemack, had his property seized in 1492 by Maximilian of Austria who donated it to the Margraves (Marquis) of Baden. The Margraves built an impressive artillery boulevard flanked by vaulted galleries and a large three-storey dwelling of which only the cellar, with its remarkable barrel vault, remains today.

Besieged in 1552 by French troops, the sacked citadel was only returned to the Margraves of Baden in 1563. It was forsaken by the administrators of the area who preferred the comfort of the Maison des Baillis, which still stands today in the heart of the village in the square with the same name.

La Citadelle ©Moselle Tourisme

The Citadel
© Moselle Tourisme

The Citadel was at the heart of various sieges until the Thirty Years’ War. The fortress was dismantled in 1673 before the French troops finally occupied it from 1678 and ordered the construction of body guards, a powder magazine, barracks to house the garrison, as well as a chapel in 1774.

The citadel came under Prussian and Austrian fire in 1792 and suffered significant damage. Refitted in 1814, it experienced its last armed attack in the conflict with Austria during the Hundred Days and was successfully defended by General Hugo, father of the poet.

The site, now partially destroyed, was permanently dismantled. It was redeemed by Baron Charles de Gargan in 1870 who turned it into a residence with a landscaped park.

Rodemack indeed suffered two World Wars but even more so the exodus of its population. It was not until the late 70s that a collective drive was established and extensive restoration work ensured that the village’s fortified outer walls were conserved as a first step.

Acquired by the Community of Cattenom Towns and Vicinities in 2004, the Rodemack Citadel underwent an extensive program of restoration and development works.

A full member of the association of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France” since 1987, Rodemack continues to facilitate and promote its tourism and culture.



La Porte de Sierck ©Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs

Porte de Sierck
© Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs

Listed as an historic monument in 1905, Rodemack is happy to welcome visitors to one of the 156 Most Beautiful Villages in France… Come and visit this small town with its touches of the Middle Ages, entering through the Porte de Sierck, the so-called Porte de la Franchise. Constructed in the 15th century, it is the only remaining gateway in a town wall built by its inhabitants, of which 700 metres of ramparts have been conserved and restored.

At few metres further, to the right of a spring water fountain that provided the locals with water, take an alleyway that leads to the church of Saint Nicolas. In the pre-Romanesque style from 915 and rebuilt in 1783, this building houses the funerary monument of Hermann-Fortuné de Bade-Rodemack (1624-1665) and his wife, Marie-Sidonie de Daun-Falkenstein (deceased in 1675). Also take time to consider the 18th century furnishings, sculpted entirely by the Greff family, and the stained glass in the choir by the celebrated painter-glazier from Metz, Laurent Charles Maréchal.

Château de Rodemack  CC Cattenom

Rodemack castle
© Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs

A few steps further, the Rue des Seigneurs leads you to the foot of the Citadel. This was built on the foundations of a medieval castle founded by the Lords of Rodemack in the 12th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the site was rebuilt and strengthened by the Margraves (marquis) of Baden who, among other things, were responsible for an impressive avenue of artillery flanked by vaulted walkways and a large, three-storey dwelling of which now only the cellar survives, which has a remarkable cradle vault.

Once a stronghold of French military engineering, the Citadel was again reinforced in the 18th century, before being declassified and partially demolished. In 1860, it was bought by the De Gargan family, prominent iron smelters, who converted it into a residence and a park.

Acquired by the Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs in 2004, the Citadel of Rodemack has undergone a vast programme of restoration and enhancement.

Acquired by the Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs in 2004, the Citadel of Rodemack has undergone a vast programme of restoration and enhancement.

Medieval garden © Moselle Tourisme

Medieval garden
© Moselle Tourisme

As you walk down the Rue du Fort, take a look at the bildstock (wayside cross) from the 15th century, the post office, the chapel of Our Lady… and, walking by the stream, take a path that follows the town ramparts and takes you into a positively medieval atmosphere. Also enjoy the medieval garden in which medicinal, condimentary, food and fruit plants are cultivated…

Further along, a hole through the wall takes you to the Place des Baillis where, opposite the local tourist information office, you will see the Maison des Baillis (16th century), on which the lintels still bear the arms of the Margraves of Baden. Continue on the path and end your tour at the Prison Tower.


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