This week's Photohunt is protection. Let's look at the lovely village of Villefranche sur Mer on the French Riviera and see how it has been protected over the years.
Today, looking at the luxury villas and expensive yachts, it is difficult to realize that this region of France was always under attack and frequently changed rulers. The area was hotly disputed between the Duchy of Savoy and France. It did not become part of France until 1860.
Modern day Villefranche sur Mer started in 1295 when the Duke of Anjou who later became Count of Provence, enticed the local hilltop inhabitants to move closer to the bay to secure the harbor from pirates. The port was declared a free port giving tax and port revenue to the city. The name Villefranche sur Mer means 'free city'.
As the city built up, the 'Rue Obscure' or Dark Street was built. It dates back to the XIVth century. It is located just behind the seafront buildings and runs to the ramparts above the city. The building built up and over the street and it became covered. This provided good refuge for the villagers when attacked. It was also a good place to hide goods such as wine. The inhabitants even used it as late as WWII during a parting German attack at the end of the war.
In 1543, the city was attacked and occupied which led the Duke of Savoy to create two forts, the Citadel along the water and one high on the Mont Alban above the city to protect the village. The forts were not always successful the the city exchanged hands several times.
Today, tourists roam the darkly lit Rue Obscure, the city hall (Mairie) and museums inhabit the citadel and the hilltop fortress waits to be renovated.