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Saint-Laurent-d'Aigouze, France

Carbonniere Tower

This historic stone gate tower is now just a lonely relic in the middle of a swamp. 

Standing amidst a drowned French salt swamp, the Carbonniere Tower was once a working bit of fortification, now stands as a strange relic from a bygone time.

The Carbonniere Tower (Tour Carbonniere) was first constructed in the 13th century to help defend the walled town of Aigues-Mortes. The road led right through the tower, which at the time that it was manned, was guarded by a garrison of men who defended the lonely tower. Travelers would have to pay a toll to pass through the single gate, a tradition that was maintained up into the 1700s.

Eventually the defense of the tower was abandoned and it simply became a relic of a bygone era in the region, although the road was still used. Eventually, the small opening in the gate tower proved too small for modern uses, and a pair of curved roads were built around the sides of the tower, bypassing its thoroughfare altogether. Given that the tower’s use had dried up, while the surrounding swamp did not, the aging spire eventually began to deteriorate, and it seemed it the tower would succumb to the surrounding wetlands.

Luckily, the tower was restored in the 1800s and is now a tourist site. The structure can now be visited by anyone driving by and willing to stop. It might not be defending anything any longer, but it still stands as a fantastical bit of medieval construction.