Place de la République
BP 823 - 50 108 Cherbourg Cedex
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Tuesday and Thursday: 8.15am-5pm
Since the gallo-roman period, Coriallo is mentioned in the Peutinger tablets, map for the roman legions. Attached to the Normandy dukedom in 933, the city is one of the most important of the Anglo-Norman state. Under Philippe Le Bel (beginning of the 14th century), the city is fortified because of its strategic emplacement, facing England. During the Hundred Years’ War, the city changed six times of monarch without ever been taken!
In 1680, Louis XIV sends Vauban to inspect the Manche harbours, including the Cherbourg harbour. In 1686, he gives the king a Memoir on the town and suggests important works which start in 1687.
In January 1689, order is given to demolish the castle and its fortifications. The Kingdom fears a landing from the Orange prince’s army (war against the Augsbourg league). The city, highly fortified but weakly guarded because of insufficient credits, must not fall into the enemy’s hands.
In 1758, an English raid (Seven Years’ war) destroys completely Cherbourg’s new harbour.
Louis XVI chooses Cherbourg as military port; the works for the central dike start in 1782.
As soon as 1797, the military port starts building war vessels. This activity brings the surrounding population to settle in Octeville, transforming the peaceful village into an active town.
Stopped during the French Revolution, the maritime works start up again in 1803, upon Napoleon the 1st’s request. Most of these works will be achieved under the Second Empire.
In August 1858, Napoleon III unveils the Paris-Cherbourg railway, the last great dock in the military port and the Napoleon I statue, sculpture created by Arman Le Véel.
After the First World War, the port becomes one of the boarding ports for the New World. The transatlantic harbour station, an Art Deco masterpiece, is unveiled in 1933. It welcomes many transatlantic liners.
On June 18 1940, the city surrenders to the Germans. Four years later, it is the first target of the allied troups landed in Utah Beach: it possesses the only deep water port of the area. The German troups surrender on June 26 1944. The conquest of Cherbourg is not easy, but the town is relatively spared, except for its port.
Between July and the end of the war, Cherbourg becomes the first port in the world: all the war effort goes through its quays.
With the “Glorious Thirties”, Cherbourg and Octeville expand. The two towns merge in 2000.
In 2002, La Cité de la Mer, scientific theme park dedicated to the under water adventure, opens its doors in the transatlantic harbour station, giving a new spring to local tourism.
Today, the city is launched in an important renewal urban operation which transforms its aspect.