Bastogne Tourist Attractions
The small town of Bastogne (Flemish Bastenaken), known for its tasty smoked ham and its nuts, is situated on the plateau of the Ardennes not far from the Luxembourg border.
Today the town's name is inseparably linked with the Battle of the Ardennes, the final German counter-offensive of the Second World War mounted late in 1944 and early 1945.Bastogne's medieval fortress, strategically sited at the intersection of two great military roads (Reims to Cologne and Arlon to Tongeren), caught fire in the 13th C. and was eventually destroyed by the French in 1688.On December 16, 1944 German forces launched their last great offensive of the Second World War in the Ardennes, with the intention of advancing on Antwerp. The initial swift German push succeeded in surrounding Bastogne, trapping U.S. troops commanded by General McAuliffe.Called upon to surrender McAuliffe refused, holding out for a further four days. General Patton's tanks finally broke the German siege, so liberating Bastogne for the second time. The Battle of the Ardennes ended on January 25, 1945 with the Allies poised to advance into Germany.Second World War Remembrance Day services are held in December.
Road to Freedom
The "Road to Freedom" (French "Voie de la Liberté") which, with its kilometer-stones, marks the route of the 1944 Allied advance from Normandy to near Bastogne, passes through the town.
Bastogne's town center, the old Grand' Place, is now called Place McAuliffe in honor of the man who ended the German occupation. The events of those days are further commemorated by a U.S. Sherman tank and a monument to the general, both of which stand in the southern corner of the square.
Musée original au pays d'Ardenne
The Musée original au pays d'Ardenne, just off the square, about 50m/55yds along the Route de Neufchâteau, focuses on all the multifarious aspects of life in the Ardennes. As well as displays of farm implements and stuffed animals etc., there are weapons and other equipment from the Battle of the Ardennes.
A monument in the form of a relief dedicated to the U.S. General Patton can be seen in the Rue Joseph Renquin, quite near the town square.
The founding of the church of Saint-Pierre (Place Saint-Pierre) can be traced back to the seventh C., though nothing from that time survives. The tower of the present church dates from the 12th C. while the nave, damaged by fire in the 13th C., was later completed in the Meuse Gothic style in the 15th C.The church interior has several interesting features, chief among which is the nave vaulting, colorfully decorated with scenes from the Old and New Testaments by Renadin de Wicourt. Also noteworthy are the Romanesque fonts, the 12th C. altar, and the Baroque pulpit by Georges Scholtus from Bastogne.
Only a short distance from the church and gate, archaeological finds and other artifacts can be seen displayed in the Maison Mathelin, the town's historical and archaeological museum.Spanning a period from Gallo-Roman times, through the Middle Ages up to the Second World War, the collection covers the early as well as the modern history of Bastogne and the surrounding region. One section is specifically devoted to the rural life of the Ardennes.
Porte de Trêves
Musée en Piconrue
Housed in 15 rooms of a 17th C. Bethlehemite monastery at Place Saint-Pierre 24, the rather unusual Musée en Piconrue is a celebration of popular religion in its various forms, including its expression in folk art.
A memorial dedicated to American soldiers killed in the Battle of the Ardennes stands on Mardasson Hill.
The 6,785 German soldiers killed in the Ardennes lie buried in the German War Cemetery at Recogne, 6km/4miles north of Bastogne.