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Tanguy Tower in Brest

Built on a block of granite, the Bastille de Quilbignon or "Tour de la Motte Tanguy" is situated in a favoured location on the edge of the Penfeld facing the castle of Brest.
The tower is believed to be part of a system of fortifications set up to protect or prevent, depending on the circumstances, communications between the two banks.

A sentinel on the Penfeld
It is not known for certain who exactly built this tower. Either the English built it during the second half of the 14th century or a certain Tanguy du Châtel had it built before Jean de Montfort entrusted the English with the guarding of Brest in 1341.
The English eventually returned the tower to Jean IV, Duke of Brittany, son of Jean de Monfort, in 1397 after having defended it from the attacks of the French under Bertrand Du Guesclin.
The Tanguy Tower then became the seat of justice for the lords of Châtel and remained so until 1580. The tower was then disregarded before becoming the property of the Rohan-Guéméné family then of the Crown. It was finally sold during the Revolution as national property.
Transformed into a dwelling house, it was burnt down during the 1944 combats.
In 1954, the City of Brest gained ownership over the tower and hired the painter Jim E. Sevellec to retell the past of an old town of which there were hardly any witnesses of history.

The Tanguy Tower is home to huge dioramas
Historical re-enactments and walks through the picturesque streets of pre-1939 Brest.

1st floor : The memory of Brest
  • On the first floor, Jim Sevellec has recreated various aspects of our city at times when events have particularly marked it.
  • The last fight of "Marie de la Cordelière"
  • The castle of Brest at the beginning of the 20th century
  • Brest at the beginning of the 17th century
  • The Embassy of Siam
  • The city on the eve of the Revolution.

2nd Floor
  • Jim Sevellec's models take you on a walk through the picturesque streets and squares of the old Brest, giving more focus to the Recouvrance district : the Tower market, Napoleon III's visit in 1858, the Pouliquen market in 1910, the Aviation bar in 1934, Borda street in 1925, Siam street in 1918, etc.

All these dioramas equate to real photographs taken on the spot.
Nothing is missing, neither the sailors in goguettes, nor the American soldiers of the First World War going down Siam street, nor the umbrellas. This moving journey through Brest's history will perhaps help you to understand why the people of Brest are so strongly attached to their pre-bomb city, to all these houses "playing with perched roofs", to this Siam street "neither wide, nor straight, nor well paved, nor very clean… a torrent that runs down from the countryside that you can't see, towards the ocean that you can't see either"...
Numerous photographic documents, old maps of the town and the penal colony, engravings, old songs from Brest and a collection of coats of arms complete this lively museum.

Enjoy your visit to the Tanguy Tower and immerse yourself in the history of Brest. Admire the panoramic view surrounding you while exiting the tower : the Castle, the Penfeld... then, further away, after passing the Recouvrance bridge, you may dicern the emblematic contours of the Capucins taking shape.

Practical information :
Tanguy Tower Museum
Square Pierre Péron (Recouvrance district)

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