The Gates of Lille
There are three gates to Lille as follows:
La Porte de Roubaix
Rue de Roubaix
It was at this now run-down Porte de Roubaix in 1972 that an Austrian major armed with just an ultimatum of the Duke of Saxe-Eschen, vainly demanding the city’s surrender. To the left of the gate is a 17th century house – House of the Old Men. Today its location near the Lille Europe train station marks the end of the old town and the beginning of Euralille business district and shopping centre.
La Porte de Gand
Rue de Gand
This, the last fortified gate to Lille, stands next to Rue de Gand overseeing the cobbled streets and restaurants at the fashionable end of the city. Its archway and coloured brick are attractive to look at and the view from the windows of the restaurant at the top take in the gate’s gardens.
Both the gates of Roubaix and Gand were built during Spanish Occupation of the city. When trams made their debut in Lille in 1875, both gates were opened to allow access for them. Since then their moats have been turned into gardens.
La Porte de Paris
Place Simon Vollant
This gate, the most impressive of the three gates, served as an ‘Arc de Triomphe’ (though much smaller), was constructed between 1685 and 1692 in honour of the capture of Lille by Louis XIV.
The arch is decorated with the Coat of Arms of Lille (bearing only lilly) and the Coat of Arms of France (bearing 3 lillies). The top of the arch is crowned with two angels whose role is to tell the world about the Sun King’s conquest. The portal has a statue of Hercules – symbol of strength highlighting the power and magnificence of the king – on the right, and Mars, the god of war, on the left. Place Simon Vollant was named after the architect of the Porte de Paris.
The surrounding ramparts were demolished in 1858 and the circular shape of the gate is landscaped with a moat garden.