The Tour Tanguy of Brest !

 I have written several posts on this quant city of Brest, of the Finistére dept 29 of my lovely Bretagne. However, this part is rather nice so figure deserves a post on its own. I am updating this older post; hope you enjoy the Tour Tanguy of Brest as I. 

As arrive by car and park in front of the Château, (see post) then do our walks all over the city. While passing by the Recouvrance bridge ,(see post) we noted this ancient tower right in the harbor not knowing what it was we headed for it. Well, it is a very nice museum of the city of Brest. I like to tell you a bit more on it.

brest-base-navale-tour tanguy nov12

The Bastille Quilbignon or Motte-Tanguy tower is built on a rocky mound along the Penfeld river, Recouvrance, facing the castle of Brest (see post). It is accessed from Rue de la Porte by the Place Pierre-Péron, at the foot of the Recouvrance bridge (see post). This tower of the 14C houses the museum of old Brest.


The origin of the medieval tower could not be determined very precisely. Tradition give it as founder Tanguy I of Chastel, lord at the castle of Trémazan in Landunvez, which was illustrated in the struggle of Brittany against England and contributed to the development of the right bank. But the construction is probably posterior.  In 1386 the Duke of Brittany Jean IV undertook the siege of the castle of Brest occupied by the English. To ensure the blockade he leaned on two bastilles: one facing the castle, the other at Quilbignon on the right bank, called Bastille Kerneguez, simple wooden fort. The Bastille of Kerneguez was taken and destroyed by the Duke of Lancaster. In 1387 Jean IV rebuilt the two stone buildings, much stronger than before.

It is very likely that this Bastille Kerneguez, mentioned as being on the edge of the Penfeld river facing the castle, became the property of the family of Chastel after the departure of the English in 1397. The name of the Bastille gave way to that of Tanguy tower, first name worn by several members of this line. Their weapons are engraved above the door.  Until about 1580, the Tanguy tower served as the seat of justice of the lords of the Châtel, before they transfer it to a neighboring house. Then neglected, the tower became the property of the Rohan-Guéméné family in 1786 then passed into the Royal domain before being sold as national property during the French revolution to the Sieur Gabon. It becomes at this time the Cabon Tower. In 1862, it is acquired by the architect Barillé who transforms it into a dwelling house. It’s last resident and private owner, Dr. Joseph Thielmans, leaves her after the fire during the fighting of 1944 in WWII.

The city of Brest becomes the owner in 1954. The Tanguy tower is restored and inaugurates the museum of old Brest in 1962 which then had only two rooms. A third room was opened to the public in July 1964. In 1971, a pepper mill was added to it and its neo-Gothic cornice was replaced with crenellations to give it a medieval silhouette. The museum houses a set of models and historical reconstructions that constitute a walk through the picturesque streets of Brest before 1939, that is to say in the city as it was before the Allied bombing during  WWII. On two floors, there are models, huge dioramas (paintings painted in relief), official documents of several eras, photos and rare postcards, a collection of coats of arms or the map of the old Brest with the Vauban fortifications. Dioramas made by the Brest artist Jim Sévellec represent the great episodes in the history of Brest.  The tour Tanguy is divided into three section, the street level, (1fl US etc ), first floor and second floor, all very nice.


The city of Brest on the Tanguy tower :

The Brest tourist office on the Tanguy tower :

There you go folks, another dandy in nice Brest. The Tanguy tower museum is worth the detour in the city and close to the main museums in the castle.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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