Free walking tours Bordeaux


The Bordeaux Submarine Base: a historic transformation

The Bordeaux Submarine Base, built during World War II, has undergone a historic transformation. Built by the Germans, it used refugee and Compulsory Labor Service labor. Bombed by the Americans in 1943, it has now been recovered by the city of Bordeaux and is used for contemporary art exhibitions. It also houses the world’s largest digital art gallery, Bassins de Lumières. The submarine base is a place of historical and artistic interest that you cannot miss on your Free Walking Tour of Bordeaux.

History of the Bordeaux Submarine Base during World War II

Construction by the Germans

The Bordeaux Submarine Base was built during World War II by German forces. This strategic port complex had seven central cells that functioned as a dry dock for the maintenance and repair of submarines. The German authorities undertook the construction of this base because of its strategic position in the port of Saint-Nazaire.

Use of Refugee and Compulsory Labor Service Labor

During the construction of the Bordeaux Submarine Base, the Germans employed Spanish refugee and Compulsory Labor Service labor. These people were forced to work in difficult and dangerous conditions to carry out the construction of this important naval point.

Bombing by the Americans in 1943

In May 1943, the Bordeaux Submarine Base was subjected to a devastating bombardment by American forces. The reason for this attack was the concentration of U-boats at the site, which posed a major threat to Allied forces. Despite the bombing, the base continued to be used by the Germans during the course of the war.

Transformation and recovery of the Bordeaux Submarine Base

The Bordeaux Submarine Base has undergone an impressive transformation since its construction during World War II. Today, this iconic site has become an impressive cultural and tourist center that houses contemporary art exhibitions and a digital art gallery of the history of Bordeaux.

Current use for contemporary art exhibitions

The Bordeaux Submarine Base is now a vibrant space where contemporary art exhibitions are held. In its impressive cavities, visitors can contemplate works by renowned artists and enjoy unique installations that merge traditional art with new technologies.

Exhibitions and cultural activities at the base

The Bordeaux Submarine Base offers a wide variety of exhibitions and cultural activities. In addition to impressive works of contemporary art, this space hosts concerts, dance performances and other artistic events. Visitors can immerse themselves in an atmosphere full of creativity and enjoy exciting cultural events. If you don’t know what to see in Bordeaux in 4 days, this is an interesting stop to delve into the art and history of the region.

Bassins de Lumières: the digital art gallery at the Bordeaux Submarine Base

The Bordeaux Submarine Base has undergone an impressive transformation and now houses Bassins de Lumières, the world’s largest digital art gallery. In this unique cultural space, visitors can immerse themselves in monumental exhibitions by renowned artists such as Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee, as well as enjoy the works of talented contemporary digital artists.

Characteristics and dimensions of the exhibition space

Les Bassins des Lumières occupies a magnificent area of nearly 600,000 cubic meters of reinforced concrete, offering an unparalleled environment for the exhibition of digital art. Strategically placed video projectors, loudspeakers and optical cables create an immersive atmosphere that envelops viewers in the wonders of digital art.

Monumental exhibits by Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee

One of the highlights at Bassins de Lumières is the main exhibition dedicated to the masterpieces of Gustav Klimt. Large-scale projected images on the concrete walls show the beauty and sensuality of his creations, including his iconic painting ‘The Kiss’. Every brush stroke and detail of his works come to life in this stunning digital environment. In addition, an exciting exhibition of the abstract works of Paul Klee, a pioneer of modern art, is presented. His compositions full of vibrant colors and fascinating shapes materialize on the walls, transporting viewers to a world of imagination and creativity.

Works by contemporary digital artists and additional exhibitions

Bassins de Lumières also offers a space for the exploration of contemporary digital art. From interactive works to audiovisual installations, the gallery provides a platform for innovative digital artists to showcase their talents and experiment with new technologies. In addition to the Klimt and Klee highlights, Bassins de Lumières also presents additional exhibitions that change periodically. These additional exhibitions offer a variety of artistic approaches and themes, ensuring that each visit to the gallery is unique and exciting.

Expansion and future of the Bordeaux Submarine Base area

The historic transformation of the Bordeaux Submarine Base is not limited only to its recovery as a digital art gallery, Bassins de Lumières. The city of Bordeaux has big plans for this area, aiming to expand and enrich its cultural and tourist offerings. Below are the most prominent projects that are part of the expansion and future of this emblematic transformed underwater base.

Projects for the creation of museums, exhibition halls and restaurants

As part of the revitalization of the Bordeaux Submarine Base area, plans are underway for the creation of exhibition halls and museums in Bordeaux. These spaces will provide an additional platform for contemporary artists, as well as thematic exhibitions related to maritime history and culture. In addition, restaurants are planned to open that will offer visitors a unique gastronomic experience, combining local culinary tradition with innovation.

Planned leisure spaces and cultural events

The Bordeaux underwater base will become a vibrant and dynamic place, offering a wide range of leisure and entertainment spaces for visitors. It is planned to provide outdoor areas with gardens and green spaces, where people will be able to enjoy walks and quiet moments. In addition, regular cultural events, such as open-air concerts, dance performances and film screenings, will be organized to enrich the experience of visitors to the area.

Historical and artistic significance of the transformed submarine base

The transformation of the Bordeaux Submarine Base has rescued a historically significant site and turned it into an internationally renowned artistic and cultural center. This evolution is a demonstration of the capacity to regenerate and adapt spaces to contemporary needs. The transformed underwater base is now a living testimony to past history and, in turn, a place of expression for digital and contemporary artists. Furthermore, the planned expansion and future projects ensure that this area will continue to evolve and play a relevant role in Bordeaux’s cultural and tourist offer.

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