World War II sites in Normandy

Mémorial de Caen

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 Centu ...
Founded: 1989 | Location: Caen, France

La Cambe War Cemetery

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 ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: La Cambe, France

Bayeux War Cemetery

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 recogni ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Bayeux, France

Utah Beach Museum

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 ...
Founded: | Location: Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France

Normandy Tank Museum

Normandy Tank Museum presents a great collection of American military vehicles from the Second World War. It is located on the historic site of the airfield A10 built from June 15th till June 18th, 1944 by the 826th Battalion of Air Engineering, to receive the first devices P47 Thunderbolt, on June 19th during the day.
Founded: | Location: Catz, France

Airborne Museum

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 o ...
Founded: 1962 | Location: Sainte-Mère-Église, France

American Cemetery and Memorial

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 ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France

Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre or is a museum situated immediately behind the beach codenamed Juno, the section of the Allied beachhead on which 14,000 Canadian troops landed on D-Day 6 June 1944. The Centre was conceived in the 1990s by a group of Canadian veterans who felt that the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during the liberation of Europe were not properly commemorated and represented in the Normandy reg ...
Founded: | Location: Courseulles-sur-Mer, France

Pegasus Bridge

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 u ...
Founded: 1934 | Location: Bénouville, France

Omaha Beach Memorial Museum

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-d ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France

Ranville War Cemetery

Ranville was the first village to be liberated in France when the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured intact in the early hours of 6 June, 1944 by troops of the 6th Airborne Division, who were landed nearby by parachute and glider. Many of the division"s casualties are buried in Ranville War Cemetery and the adjoining churchyard. The cemetery contains 2,235 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 97 of them ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Ranville, France

Bény-sur-Mer War Cemetery

Bény-sur-Mer was created as a permanent resting place for Canadian soldiers who had been temporarily interred in smaller plots close to where they fell. As is usual for war cemeteries or monuments, France granted Canada a perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery. The graves contain soldiers from the Canadian 3rd Division and 15 Airmen killed in the Battle of Normandy. The cemetery also includes fou ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Reviers, France

Atlantic Wall Museum

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 a ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Ouistreham, France

St. Desir-de-Lisieux War Cemetery

The British grave service buried 3697 German casualties on this tarrein in St. Desir-de-Lisieux and made it a German War Cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte). It is known as one of the cemeteries where Germen casualties who were found nowadays can be buried.
Founded: 1944 | Location: St. Desir-de-Lisieux, France

Bretteville-sur-Laize War Cemetery

Bretteville-sur-Laize was created as a permanent resting place for Canadian soldiers who had been temporarily buried in smaller plots close to where they fell. At the time of the cemetery"s creation, France granted Canada a perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery. The graves contain 2793 soldiers from the 2nd Canadian Corps, 91 of them unknown, and 79 RCAF airmen killed in the Battle of Normandy. A ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Cintheaux, France

St. Manvieu War Cemetery

Those buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery died for the most part in the fluctuating battles from mid June to the end of July 1944, in the region between Tilly-sur-Seulles and Caen. The cemetery contains 1,627 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 49 of them unidentified. There are also 555 German burials.The cemetery was designed by Philip Hepworth.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Cheux, France

Orglandes War Cemetery

Orglandes War Cemetery is a German World War II cemetery in Normandy, France. The 10,152 burials come from summer 1944, immediately following D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The entrance is marked by a small house surmounted by a bell-tower. The cemetery consists of 28 rows of graves, each grave marked by a stone cross. Each cross details the name, date of birth and date of death of each of the six or more dead soldiers ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Orglandes, France

Marigny War Cemetery

Marigny German War Cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte) contains 11,172 graves. Most of the casualties were buried here after the World War II, when they were brought together from lonely fieldgraves and small cemeteries. Many of the soldiers buried in Marigny belonged to the Panzer-Lehr Division that was almost entirely destroyed by Allied bombardment during the Battle of St-Lô on July 25, 1944 when the Allied f ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: La Chapelle-en-Juger, France

Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial

The Brittany American Cemetery is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission on foreign soil. The site was liberated on 2 August 1944 by the 8th Infantry Division; a temporary military cemetery was established on it three days later. After the war, when the temporary cemeteries were being disestablished by the American Graves Registration ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Montjoie-Saint-Martin, France

Mont-de-Huisnes War Cemetery

The German war cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte) of Mont-de-Huisnes is different from ther cemeteries because the casualties are brought together in chambers, 180 casualties in each chamber. The chambers form a circle which is about 47 metres wide.The cemetery contains 11,956 war graves.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Huisnes-sur-Mer, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.