Fort De Douaumont - Verdun - France

Address: Circuit Champ De Bataille/Verdun Area (See map)
Telephone: no telephone
Website: not available

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available
Size of the museum/site: large
Year of visit: 2002
Overall rating:

Description: Stretching 3 hectares and incorporating 3 kilometres of tunnels and corridors, the Fort de Douaumont formed the strongest point of the fortifications around Verdun during World War 1. For reasons still not clear to us, the fort was evacuated and partially disarmed before the Germans marched into the area and captured it in August 1915. The Germans used the fort as a centre for logistics and as a temporary shelter for exhausted men who fought at the front around Verdun. During French bombardments and various (failing) assaults many men lost their lives in the maze of rooms and tunnels, until French Colonial troops finally succeeded to recapture the fort in October 1916.

Much of the fort itself has survived and is now open to the public: visitors can wander around large parts of the structure and enter lots of rooms and corridors. Although you'll be busy finding your way through all the tunnels and compartments for quiet some time, what you actually get to see is a bit disappointing. Hardly any room has been brought back to its original state and furnishing is nowhere to be found, which is a shame because that would enable you to experience how living in the fort must have been (rather than staring at a lot of empty brick rooms and hallways). Many rooms have no proper lighting so that they are just dark holes and large parts of the fort seem to be rotting or rusting away because of lack of care. It is of course difficult and expensive to renovate and maintain a structure of such age and with such war damage, but in this case it seems that just a little bit of extra effort could do a lot.

Interesting historical site with room for improvement!

The massive walls near the entrance still form an impressive sight.

One of the endless corridors connecting the different rooms and defense structures of the fortress.

German memorial for all the soldiers who fell during the dramatic events taking place in the months after the relatively easy conquest of the fort.

Rust-eaten inside works of a gun-turret, crying out for renovation...

The observation turret on top of the fort.

Huge 155 mm canon. The cannon can rotate and shove up and down in the fortress.