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Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, the Tour Saint-Nicolas (14th century), the Tour de la Chaîne (14th century) and the Tour de la Lanterne (12th and 15th century) are the remains of a great fortification campaign undertaken in the City of La Rochelle that began in 1199. These towers are the symbol of a city with a rich and proud seafaring and trading heritage.
The development of La Rochelle as a city began in the 11th century, and was assured from the 14th century onwards by the protection afforded by its towers. The Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaîne were particularly important, as they controlled the entry of trading ships to the city’s port.
The Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaîne form the majestic gateway to the Old Port, and for ten centuries they were indispensable to the city’s defence.
This tower was constructed as a military building facing the ocean just after liberation from the English in 1372. La Tour Saint Nicolas symbolised the wealth and power of La Rochelle. At 42 metres in height, the tower includes a labyrinth of staircases and corridors within its walls.
La Tour de la Chaîne marks the entry point to the old port. From the tower, the movement of ships was surveyed and taxes were collected.
The 55-metre Tour de la Lanterne is the very last surviving medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic seaboard, which makes it the oldest lighthouse on the Atlantic coast. At one point in its history the tower became a navy prison, and contains more than 600 examples of graffiti carved into the walls by prisoners over three centuries.
Open every day except the first Monday of each month.
April - September:
10am - 1pm, 2:15 pm - 6:30