Sisteron in 2004
|Coordinates: 44°11′28″N 5°56′50″E / 44.1911°N 5.9472°ECoordinates: 44°11′28″N 5°56′50″E / 44.1911°N 5.9472°E|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Daniel Spagnou|
|Area1||50.25 km2 (19.40 sq mi)|
|• Density||150/km2 (380/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||04209 / 04200|
448–1,145 m (1,470–3,757 ft) |
(avg. 485 m or 1,591 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Sisteron is situated on the banks of the River Durance just after the confluence of the rivers Buëch and Sasse. It is sometimes called the "Gateway to Provence" because it is in a narrow gap between two long mountain ridges.
Sisteron has been inhabited for 4000 years. The Romans used the route through Sisteron as can be shown by a Latin inscription in the rocks near the road to Authon. It escaped the barbarian invasions after the fall of Rome, but was ravaged by the Saracens. It was first fortified by the Counts of Forcalquier in the 11th century and later was the northern boundary of the domain of the Counts of Provence. In 1483 during the reign of Louis XI, Sisteron re-joined the kingdom of France. Around this time there were seven plagues that killed two thirds of the population. Between 1562 and 1594 the town and its citadelle was fought over by Protestants and Catholics including two sieges. During this time the walls of the town were built. The plague returned in 1630, and typhus in 1744, killing many of the town's population.
On 15 August 1944 French B-26 Marauder bombers and American B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 42nd Bomber Wing tried to destroy the railway bridge and the road bridge which span the Durance. The weather was unfavorable and the bridges were not destroyed. A bomber during a manoeuvre to avoid a collision accidentally dropped several bombs on the town, including a full church, causing about 100 fatalities and seriously damaged the citadel. On August 17, the French aircraft returned and destroyed the bridges.
The town's buildings include the citadel and the 12th century former Sisteron Cathedral dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Thyrsus (Cathédrale Notre Dame des Pommiers et Saint Thyrse). There are three museums of note: the Citadel Museum, the Baden-Powell Scout Museum and Musée Terre & Temps (about the earth and the measurement of time)
Tourist attractions include the countryside, the lido and the airfields at Vaumeilh, La Motte-du-Caire and Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, which are dedicated to the sport of gliding. There is an annual festival with many events throughout the summer months. There is a market every Wednesday. A long distance walk, the GR 6 (Grande Randonnée) passes east-west through Sisteron.
Sisteron is served by the A51 autoroute, which now by-passes the town, eliminating it as a notorious 'bottle-neck' for traffic. There is also a railway station on the line from Marseille to Briançon and Grenoble.
- Jean-Baptiste d'Ornano (1581-1626), an illustrious French noble; governor of Gaston, Duke of Orléans and instigator of the Chalais conspiracy was born in Sisteron
- The poet Paul Arène (1843–1896) was born in the town.
- Louis Antoine Jullien (1812–1860), popular music conductor and composer of light music, was born in Sisteron
Sisteron is twinned with:
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