Friday, March 26, 2010


On the way back from Pont-a-Mousson to Metz, we drove up to the village of Prény. This tiny hillside village, which now has 385 inhabitants, is surmounted by the ruins of a castle that was once a major military factor in the region. Prény occupies strategic high ground overlooking the Moselle River.

The Chateau de Prény's central stronghold (donjon) was built in the 11th Century. By its peak in the mid-17th Century, the castle had 16 towers and dry moats. Just to get near the ruins, you have to drive through a narrow stone gate.

The castle was important enough that it was the residence of the dukes of Lorraine before they moved to Nancy. The battlecry of the Lorraine soldiers was "Prény! Prény!" With thanks for permission from the interesting Blog des Châteaux Forts, here is a drawing of the castle as it once looked.

The castle was beseiged multiple times, never falling. Indeed, it was powerful enough that, with the annexation of Lorraine to France in the 17th Century, it was demolished on the orders of Richelieu. The ruins passed through many hands, and are now privately owned. The owners have provided a detailed history of the castle and graciously permit visitors to see much of the ruins. The grounds have multiple signs warning of falling stones and prohibiting climbing the towers. After you pass through the stone gate into what was once the castle's courtyard, here is the main view of the ruins from the narrow street.

A path around the north tower leads to the interior of the stronghold.

The castle's remnants still impress, although its state makes you take entirely seriously the warnings about falling stones.

To leave, you drive back down through the gate toward the village just below.

From the road you can see the forested slopes of this part of Lorraine, much of which retains a wild aspect. On the way home we ended up driving on a gravel road past fields and orchards.

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