The fortress of Commercy is standing the whole Meuse valley since the 15th century. The oldest part used to take up much space of the “Fer à Cheval” square.
A second outer wall was built at the foot of the old castle in the latter half of the 15th century.
It is the part that you are free to visit every summer and on request.
The castle was built on the 12th-century old fortress by the Cardinal of Retz in 1662 and it was embellished by the Prince of Vaudémont from 1708. Then, it became a real palace thanks to the arrival of Stanislas - the king of Poland - in Commercy; he made the castle the place of his “royal pleasures”…
After he left the court to set in Commercy, the count of Vaudémont rebuilt the future Stanislaw Castle.
He decided with his architects Boffrand and Dorbay to build the new castle on the watchtowers and the curtain walls of the outside wall of the fortress. In this way, the castle is located in front of the “Fer à Cheval” and the square opens onto “rue Neuve”.
King Stanislas linked the castle and the “Fer à Cheval” thanks to the lower wings which were drawn by Emmanuel Héré and which fully separated the old city from the princely area.
After becoming a barracks, the castle was burnt in 1944, restored from 1957 and finally opened to the public on November 5th, 1972.
After the death of King Stanislas in 1766, the castle of Commercy became a military barracks known as “Bercheny district”, in tribute to the first military governor of Commercy in 1887. Furthermore, Bercheny was the son of the French Regiment of Hussars’ creator.
Panellings, mirrors and fireplaces were sold.
Backyards were cancelled, pavilions were destroyed and their materials were sold.
Stables and statues were built on the parterre of the old orangery. A big merry-go-round was erected on the “parterre du midi”. The courtyard gate is cancelled. Hussars and cavalrymen from different regiments will succeed each other up to 1914.
On August 31, 1944, around midday, an American tank burnt a German truck which was parked in the courtyard. A few minutes later, the entire south wing caught fire, and this fire has totally destroyed the castle (see pictures below).
The State let the city have the ruins in 1956. After considering razing them, the city finally launched an ambitious reconstruction program which will last during twenty years.
The architect in charge of this project took a few liberties; for example, he changed the shape of roof and he sculpted the capitals on the front facade.
It was classified as a French historic monument in 1960. Today, it houses:
- the Town Hall
- a nursery school with a gymnasium
- the municipal library
- the Home of Services with the offices of the “Communauté de Communes”
- the Tourist Office
- the Internal Revenue Service
Commercy, it’s also about… art
The great hall was identically rebuilt and today, it is used as a treasure chest for the exhibitions of the city council. For example, an art exhibition takes place here every summer.
The city council want to develop a strong cultural identity in order to enable a standing even out of Commercy.
There are around 8 exhibitions a year, with 12,000 free admissions.
Throughout Commercy, several sculptures decorate the roundabouts and the entrances of the city: for example the famous Blue Cows by Patrick Hervelin, the Travellers by Milutin Mratinkovic or Day of anger by Amilcar Zanonni. All these renowned artists have already exhibited in the great hall of the Stanislaw Castle.
Finally, it can be noticed that Commercy is a town of character which got the French label “Plus Beaux Détours de France” – literally “Most Beautiful Detours of France”.
The interpretive space of the Tourist Office will make you plunge into the famous atmosphere of the castle in the 18th century thanks to…
- A scale model
- Illustrated panels…
A brochure called “Stanislaw Castle, its story” brightens up all information from different panels. You can get it freely.
- Guided tour around the castle and its medieval foundations in July and August.
Live the entire story of the castle throughout centuries, discover the remains of the fortress of the Counts of Sarrebruck which are very well preserved…
The guided tour lasts one hour.
Individual price: €4 – free of charge for children up to 12 years old
Join us at 3 p.m. at the Tourist Office for the beginning of the tour; you can buy your ticket here.
Guided tours for groups take place all year round on request.
- Stanislas Walk: waymarked walk throughout Commercy.
The plan is freely available at the Tourist Office.
- Exhibitions in the great room of the town hall (main building of the Stanislaw Castle).