Besancon is the capital city of the Franche-Comté region of northeastern France. It is situated near the border with Switzerland. Held in a loop of the river Doubs, it was once known as the first green city of France. Since 1986, the city has been labeled a ‘Town of Art and History.’ Besançon’s Vauban citadel was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008.
Besancon has a very ancient history. The city was first mentioned in 58 BCE as Vesontio in the Book I of Julius Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic War). However, in fact, Gallic tribes are considered to have inhabited the area as long ago as 1,500 BCE.
Besancon has an interesting history as it was ruled by many states over the passage of time. It has been a part of Charlemagne’s Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, being independent, under the Duke of Burgundy, and under Spanish and French rule who continued changing hands frequently between them. It gained much significance during the Napoleonic Wars when the town was bombarded by the Austrians in 1814. It was also important during the Franco-Prussian War, and captured by the Nazis during World War II.
The Citadel of Besançon is a major tourist attraction in the city. It was built by the famous architect Vauban in the 17th century and is visited by about a quarter of a million visitors every year. The Citadel houses many museums, a restaurant, shops and a zoo where you can see and touch lions, baboons and fish. The place exudes such an ambiance that everybody gets enthralled by the wonderful experience. You will get an opportunity to see spectacular views of the countryside and the town while strolling around its fortifications.
Besancon is one of the best-preserved Renaissance cities. The historic part of the city located in the “Boucle” of the river is simply stunning with the remains of what is supposed to have been a theatre in Castan Square-eight Roman Corinthian columns among the town’s most ancient allures.
Another high point of Besancon is Granvelle Palace, the museum of time. The Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian columns along with three gothic windows which used to be the characteristics of the Granvelle Palace once have become part of the splendid museum of time now.
The museum of Fine Arts and Archeology is yet another attraction of the city and a must visit place. It boasts of being one of the oldest and richest museums of France and exhibits collections from Primitive and Renaissance painters.
Get aboard our European river cruise and enjoy a wonderful family vacation to Besancon!
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