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Ciudades fortificadas

Fortaleza Bourtange en Groningen, Holanda. Se trata de una pequea ciudad fortaleza ubicada en la zona fronteriza con Alemania. La fortaleza tiene forma pentagonal y cinco bastiones, uno en cada uno de sus ngulos. La fortificacin fue construida durante la guerra de los ochenta aos (1568-1648) en un intento por parte de Guillermo de Orange de hacerse con el control de la nica carretera entre Alemania y la ciudad de Groningen, que estaba controlada por los espaoles. En 1851 el fuerte fue abandonado y Bourtange se convirti en un pueblo normal. Alrededor de 1960 las condiciones de vida en el pueblo se deterioraron y se decidi reconstruirlo y devolverlo al estado en que se encontraba en 1742. Hoy en da es un museo al aire libre. En 2001, el pueblo tena una poblacin de 267 habitantes y 133 viviendas.

For the origins of the fortress, we have to go back to the Eighty Years War. In the 16th century our ancestors hadnt gained mastery over the groundwater level yet. Large impassable marshes covered half of the current provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. These marshes were only passable in a few places, hard sandy passes, including the "two hours long, bad pass" along the place where Bourtange would later arise. In March 1580 came through the betrayal of George van Lalaing, Count

of Rennenberg, the in 1577 by the StatesGeneral appointed governor of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, the city of Groningen in the hands of the Spaniards. Later in the year 1580 Prince William of Orange gave the order to build an entrenchment with five bastions on the sand ridge in the swamp area on the border with Germany. Along this sand ridge, or tange, ran the road that connected the city of Groningen with the cities of Lingen and Westfalen. The Spaniards used this route among other things to supply the city. The prince hoped that the construction of the entrenchment would block this important route, so that the city of Groningen would be completely isolated.

The design According to the design of the mayor of Alkmaar and fortress engineer Adriaan Anthoniszoon it would be a bastioned pentagon. In April 1580 the ditching in the field began. In 1593 the entrenchment was completed. The courtyard inside the ramparts had a diameter of 45 Rhineland rods of 3.77 meters, which is 168.85 meters. Over the points of the five in the marsh protruding bastions the entrenchment measured 300 Rhineland rods, which is 60 Rhineland rods from bastion point to bastion point. A musket shot in 1593 reached no further than 60 Rhineland rods, so that from one bastion the tip of the other could just be covered. Yet it would be many years before the city of Groningen would call its defeat. In the meantime the entrenchment was strengthened. After the reduction of Groningen to the Union of Utrecht on the 23rd of July 1594, the fortress Bourtange was turned around because it no longer served to restrain the city, but was part of the eastward-looking frontier, where the Spaniard had withdrawn at the city Lingen. The entrenchment was extended on the east side with a crownwork, consisting of a bastion with on either side a half bastion, and also with two ravelins to the west and north.

Bourtange was constantly reinforced throughout the centuries, until with the emergence of "modern warfare" the fortress gradually lost its function. The garrison was reduced and more and more civilians settled within the ramparts. In 1851, the once important fortress was officially dismantled. Bourtange grew into a thriving agricultural village where craftsmen, traders and farmers found a place. Only part of the main ditch and a rusty gun barrel on a lump of sand still recalled the once important fortress. In the fifties and sixties the growth of the village Bourtange stagnated. More and more stores closed their doors, key farmers moved to other villages and even the police left. Bourtange had not kept up with the times and was not a place where people would settle anymore. Reconstruction of the fortress

More than a century after the deconstruction of the fortress the county of Vlagtwedde took the decision to reconstruct the fortress. That would revive the village. The plans were based on the situation of 1742 when the fortress had reached its greatest size. Because the layout of the streets was still intact the position of the fortress could fairly accurately be determined. The plan included not only the

reconstruction of the historic fortress, but also the integration of the population of Bourtange. The fortress would not only be a tourist attraction and a cultural heritage, but would also remain a normal village. Even now there are about 50 people living within the ramparts. From the beginning of the seventies the re-digging of the ditches began, the forming of the ramparts and the reconstructing of the buildings. All this was done in the style of old, mostly using old maps and drawings. Of course there were several modifications done to make the fortress liveable. Contemporary requirements were incorporated into the character of yesteryear. Thus are the former warehouses in the ramparts nowadays the garages for the residents of the fortress. In 1992 the work was finished. In 2001 two new buildings were completed, a soldier's barracks and the former coach house. These buildings are in use as hotel accommodation. After many years of work the fortress Bourtange is almost as it was in the year 1742, with the exception of the 'BackHuys' (second wing of 's Lands Huys).


In 1619, according to the latest findings and the increased firepower of the guns, the main rampart was broadened and heightened. In 1631, the Government of City and County came to realize that the marsh around Bourtange was falling dry. To combat this they decided to construct an osier dam in the canal the Ruiten A to the south-west of Bourtange and to direct the thus stopped high-water to the fortress through a newly dug canal, the Moddermansdiep. The ground that was excavated served on the north side of the canal as side embankment. In 1645 two horn works were added to the east outside the crownwork. In 1665 the Bishop of Munster threatened to invade Westerwolde. The entrenchment of Bourtange had completely fallen into disrepair, the palisades had fallen over, the thorn hedges on the embankments were dead, and the superstructure of the drawbridge and the wooden portcullis in front of the Friesse Gate had collapsed. The garrison consisted of only 50 men. Everything was restored, the trees cut down and the garrison was reinforced with a company of soldiers, for whom additional barracks were built. The bishop penetrated to Winschoten, but failed to conquer Bourtange. In 1681 the marsh around the entrenchment

Bourtange appeared completely dry, because the farmers had punctured holes in the dikes, dug ditches and turned the marsh into meadows and gardens. It took until 1737 before on the orders of the States-General a plan was submitted by the engineer Pieter de la Rive, to bring the entrenchment Bourtange back into defensible condition. This plan was carried out in the years 1739 to 1742. On the east side two ravelins and a demilune were added. The terrain in front was fashioned into a glacis, a terrain gradually ascending to the fortress, which was bounded on the east side by an excavated wet horizon, 24 ha large, and which lay 31 cm below the summer water level. The buildings inside the fortress were also completed at that time. Thus, the fortress reached its greatest size.