Relief Maps

Relief maps have been used to represent landscapes and fortified places for centuries. In the 15th and 16th centuries Italian engineers began to use models or relief maps as an aid to fortification design. The largest collection of fortress relief maps was commissioned by the French king Louis XIV'in the 17th century. As well as giving the king and his courtiers an effective representation of the state of fortresses that were many miles from Paris, the relief maps became a demonstration of royal grandeur. The French collection was expanded throughout the 18th century. Some of the relief maps were carried off to Berlin by the Prussians in 1815 and were later destroyed by Allied bombing in the Second World War. The surviving articles are displayed in the Hôtel des Invalides military museum in Paris and in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille. The following pages contain pictures and details of some of the surviving relief maps of fortified places:

3D Models

In the 21st century a great way to understand what fortresses would have looked like in their heyday is to use 3D models. This is especially useful when the original fortress has been completely demolished and there are no physical remains to see. In these cases 3D models of the fortifications can be created using the original plans to allow us to see what they would have been like: