Douaumont Ossuary

Douaumont, France

The Douaumont ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun in World War I. During the 300 days of the Battle of Verdun (1916) approximately 230,000 men died out here. The battle became known in German as Die Hölle von Verdun (The Hell of Verdun), or in French as L'Enfer de Verdun, and was conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers.

The ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of both French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. Through small outside windows, the skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants of both nations can be seen filling up alcoves at the lower edge of the building. On the inside of the ossuary building, the ceiling and walls are partly covered by plaques bearing names of French soldiers who fell during the Battle of Verdun. A few of the names are from fighting that took place in the area during World War II, as well as for veterans of the Indochina and Algerian Wars. The families of the soldiers that are recognized here by name contributed for those individual plaques. In front of the monument, and sloping downhill, lies the largest single French military cemetery of the First World War with 16,142 graves. It was inaugurated in 1923 by Verdun veteran André Maginot, who would later design the Maginot Line.

The tower is 46 meters high and has a panoramic view of the battlefields. The tower contains a bronze death-bell, weighing over 2 metric tons called Bourdon de la Victoire, which is sounded at official ceremonies. At the top of the tower is a rotating red and white 'lantern of the dead', which shines on the battlefields at night. The cloister is 137 meters long and contains 42 interior alcoves.

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Address

D913, Douaumont, France
See all sites in Douaumont

Details

Founded: 1916
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in France

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Oxalis Tours (14 months ago)
The Ossuary of Douaumont contains the skeletal remains of about 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers, who fell in the Battle for the town of Verdun between February and December 1916. The adjoining cemetery provides a final resting place for a further 16,000 soldiers. The battle for Verdun, which was never captured, cost 300,000 lives in all. Take the stairs to the top of the ossuary tower for a view over the vast battlefield, which is today mostly woodland. The nearby museum "Mémorial de Verdun" extensively documents this sad chapter in human history.
E W (15 months ago)
It's a tragic monument to visit, and fairly evocative, but it is bizarre and extremely off-putting that they have made it into a stereotypical tourist attraction and charge €6.50 to enter the ossuary and pay your respects. There are probably days where it is free to enter, but it is still odd to "commodify" it so much. On terms of commodification, it is also weird that all three main sites (the museum, the ossuary, and the fort) are on unrelated tickets - there is no combination ticket, so you're looking at something like €20 per adult to visit all three sites (€12 for the museum and €6.50 for the ossuary and around €4 for the fort). €6.50 for visiting the small ossuary (~15 minute visit if you don't watch the film, which is OK but only in French and only runs about 20 minutes) is the strangest and most off-putting. Paying for a museum is fine. I'd be fine donating and paying for the other sites, it is just extremely uncomfortable to make the ossuary a commodified tourist attraction.
Lara Kühnle (2 years ago)
Very impressive
Korben (2 years ago)
Unbelievably sad, moving, heartbreaking but still an absolute must-visit. Very well done. Come here and be thankful for the place and time we live in. Long live the EU, this fantastic peace project, whose value cannot be expressed in numbers.
Andy B (2 years ago)
Staggering. Difficult. Incomprehensible. Wrenching.
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