Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Toul's history, prior to the Franco-Prussian War is something of a forgotten subject locally. It is nonetheless remarkable for a number of reasons.
The most striking features are the impressive stone remparts. It is not known precisely when they were first built, but there appears to have been a fortified town at this location since the earliest recorded history. There is a great deal of Roman archaeology in the area and allegedly some in the town. The Roman fortified town of Grand is some 30km away, with its great amphitheatre and temple to the Cult of Apollo.
Today, the ramparts encircle and define the old town. They are built of dressed white stone, and topped with grass, and in places are over five metres high.During the siege of 1870, the last time that Toul's defenses were used as a classical fortress, '64 guns opened fire at 6am on September 23, and the fortress surrendered at 3pm after 2,433 shells had been fired'.
Toul also has a cathedral, and was part of a state known as the Trois Évêchés (three bishoprics) along with Metz and Verdun, which belonged at times to either France or Germany (1552 - 1870). The old town's architecture is dominated by past glories in various states of decay. Many of the houses were built as canonical residences in the late middle ages and bear vestiges in the form of ornamental stonework. There is no trace of the monastery, however its wine-cellars still exist, under the shops on the North side of the Rue Gambetta. (Access is possible via the Camera Shop).
Toul is at the intersection of the Moselle River (which divides into the river proper and the Moselle Canalisée just outside the town) with the Canal de la Marne Au Rhin, and was once, consequently, an important port. The barges known as péniches still navigate these watercourses commercially, typically carrying steel, though in the summer much more of the water traffic is for pleasure.
There is a main-line railway station at Toul, the last major station before the (once vast, and still very large) marshalling yards at Nancy. Once the Paris-Strasbourg TGV line is completed, it will probably pass through Toul. Watch this space...
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