Report - - Coll de Ladrones Fort, Canfranc, Spain, August 2016 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Coll de Ladrones Fort, Canfranc, Spain, August 2016


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The History:

Coll de Ladrones Fort (Thieves Pass Fort) was the engineer Don Juan Martinez Zermeno's first piece of work. Built as a result of the Spanish royal family's desire to control the kingdom's northern frontier, it is the counterpart to Portalet Fort. Construction of the fort began during the 18th century to guard against the threat posed to them in the French Pyrenées-Atlantiques. Plans for Coll de Ladrones Fort were draw up during the winter of 1751 and work began the following year and was completed in 1758 under the supervised of Don Pascual de Navas.

The fort was designed based on a horse-shoe plan - the eastern side flanked by two half bastions on the corners and with a central building consisting of seven covered vaults supporting a terrace (used as lodgings and to house the chapel and arms room). The building was designed to withstand siege with its own water tank. Sadly this was ineffective due to its construction which used poor quality materials and its firing lines being excessively steep. As a consequence the fort’s use was short lived as it was abandoned in 1777.

The site was briefly used again during the French Revolution and the Empire to control the Canfranc valley. It was reoccupied and then refitted in 1808. In 1876 threats from France began to concern the Spanish authorities and San Gil produced plans for a new fort. Work began in August 1888 and were completed two years later. Of the original fort, only the northern walls and the adjoining vault were retained. The new construction was made up of two two-storey buildings. It was capable of housing 200 troops (150 infantrymen and 50 artillerymen) and was faced in local stone. It was equipped with four guns dug into the rock, pointing north. A gallery with arrow slits, opened in the rock, led down to a battery located above the river. The fort was used on and off until 1961 when it was finally abandoned and sold by the Spanish Ministry of Defence.

The Explore:

This place had been in my sights having seen it in the background of pictures I’d seen of Canfranc railway station. I’d sussed it out on Google Earth and planned to drive up to it after having looked at the railway station. However the guy at the tourist information said it was not possible to drive up to it, Hence I set off on foot on a steep climb to the fort. Having finally got up there I found it was locked up. Having staked it out I realised it was a going to be a fail so had to be satisfied with the externals I could grab.

Here’s the fort coming into sight walking up the track to it:

img6422 by HughieDW, on Flickr

It’s a gloriously located fort:

img6432 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Sadly though I ain’t squeezing through the holes in this gate:

img6424 by HughieDW, on Flickr

So just a peek through said gate:

img6425 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And a mooch round the outside including this little watch turret:

img6426 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down into the fort:

img6427 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The only way down would have been by rope (which I didn’t have!):

img6428 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Is this the water tower?

img6431 by HughieDW, on Flickr

But all was not lost. I found an old world war two bunker:

img6444 by HughieDW, on Flickr

So in we went for a shufty:

img6436 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6443 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6439 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Then there was the view back over Canfranc Station itself:

img6423 by HughieDW, on Flickr