The strategic importance of Annapolis Royal, particularly its access to the Annapolis River, led to decades of conflict, mostly centered on this impressive fort. The first redoubt was built by the French in the 1630s; the current structure was designed by French military architect Vauban in 1702. You can wander the bulwarks and battlements (now mostly grassed over), and there's an interesting museum in the old officers' quarters with exhibits including a four-panel tapestry depicting 400 years of the fort's history.
When the fort fell to the British after a week-long siege in 1710, the event effectively marked the conquest of Acadia and signified British dominion over Nova Scotia. Annapolis Royal served as the province's capital until 1749. The fort survived numerous attacks from French forces, who often drew local First Nations people (including the Abenaki and Mi'kmaq) into their campaigns, but it eventually became less significant after the fall of Québec in 1759.