In 1944 Western Allies of World War II launched the largest amphibious invasion in history to the beaches of Normandy. The sites of bloody battles, cemeteries and museums provide today an imposing view to this darkest age of European modern history.
Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 30m cliff overlooking the English Channel. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group assaulted and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.
Six French-made 155 mm howitzers dating from the First World War are set up on a plateau that ends abruptly in rocky cliffs.
Utah Beach was the successful landing place of a number of American Divisions on 6th June 1944, and from here they pushed inland to the Carantan peninsula to meet up with US Airborne forces around St Mere Eglise. Between D Day and 1st November 1944 some 836,000 men and 220,000 vehicles came ashore here. The beach also marks the point of 'Liberty Way' which runs from Normandy to Bastogne in Belgium, and is marked by a memorial stone every kilometer - the 00 Kilometer stone being here (with another in St Mere Eglise).
The Utah Beach Museum was originally opened in the 1960s and then renovated f ...
The Mémorial de Caen is a museum and war memorial in Caen, commemorating the Second World War and the Battle for Caen. The building and grounds are located in the northern suburbs of the city of Caen on the site of an old blockhouse. The architect was Jacques Millet and the original curator was Yves Degraine.
The memorial is dedicated to the history of violence and intensive, outstanding conflict in the 20th Century and particularly World War II. The museum was officially opened on 6 June 1988 (the 44th anniversary of D day) by the French President François Mitterrand. The origi ...
The Airborne Museum (Musée Airborne) is dedicated to the memory of the troops of 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division who landed in Normandy, by parachute or glider, on the night of 5–6 June 1944 hours before the Allied landings in Normandy. Its collections have been donated by the townspeople and thanks to gifts from the veterans of 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.It was founded in 1962 and on 6 June that year its first stone was laid by General Gavin, who had liberated the town of Sainte-Mère-Église.
Its first building, built to look like a parachute from the air, was o ...
On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with ...
Pegasus Bridge is a bascule bridge (a type of movable bridge), built in 1934, that crossed the Caen Canal, between Caen and Ouistreham. Also known as the Bénouville Bridge after the neighbouring village, it was, with the nearby Ranville Bridge over the river Orne, a major objective of Operation Deadstick, part of Operation Tonga in the opening minutes of the invasion of Normandy in the World War II. A gliderborne unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major John Howard, was to land, take the bridges intact and hold them until relieved. The successful taking of the bridg ...
La Cambe military war grave cemetery contains of 21,000 German military personnel of World War II. It is maintained and managed by the German War Graves Commission. La Cambe was originally the site of a battlefield cemetery, established by the United States Army Graves Registration Service during the war, where American and German soldiers, sailors and airmen were buried in two adjacent fields.
After the war had ended on the continent and paralleling the work undertaken to repair all the devastation that the war had caused, work began on exhuming the American remains and transferring them in ...
The Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France. The cemetery contains 4,648 burials, mostly of the Invasion of Normandy. Opposite this cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which commemorates 1,808 casualties of the Commonwealth forces who died in Normandy and have no known grave.
The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by France in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defense and liberation of France during the war. In addition to the Commonwealth burials, there are 466 graves of Germ ...
Located at a stones throw from the beach and the Ferry terminal, the Atlantic Wall Museum (Le Grand Bunker Musee du Mur de l'Atlantique) is inside the old German headquarter which was in charge of the batteries covering the entrance of the river Orne and the canal. The 52ft high concrete tower has been fully restaured to make it look how it was on the 6th of june 1944.
You will discover on the Grand Bunker's six floors all its inner rooms, which have been recreated down to the last detail: generator room, gas filters room, casemate with machine gun protecting the entrance, dormitory, medical ...
The Omaha Beach Museum describes the history of the D-Day Landings on Omaha Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944 during World War II. Located on Omaha Beach itself, 300m from the beach the museum showcases a large collection of uniforms, weapons, personal objects and vehicles. Dioramas, archival photographs, maps and thematic signs, as well as a film featuring veterans' testimonies, will guide you through the story of the D-day landings on Omaha and Pointe du Hoc.
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.
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