World War II sites in Normandy

Pointe du Hoc

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 m ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Saint-Pierre-du-Mont, 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 by a memo ...
Founded: 1960 | Location: Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France

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

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 on 6 June t ...
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Champigny-St. André War Cemetery

The German war cemetery Champigny-St. André contains 19,809 German graves from the World War II. There is also a mass grave with 816 casualties. Of these, 303 are identified. They were brought together to this cemetery from the regions Eure, Orne, Seine-Maritime, Eure-et-Loire and Seine-et-Oisne.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Champigny-la-Futelaye, 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 larg ...
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

Banneville-La-Campagne War Cemetery

For the most part, the men buried at Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery were killed in the fighting from the second week of July 1944, when Caen was captured, to the last week in August, when the Falaise Gap had been closed and the Allied forces were preparing their advance beyond the Seine. The cemetery contains 2,170 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 140 of them unidentified, and five Polish graves.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Sannerville, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days.

Its construction is dated to c. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.