Welcome to Verdun... Links to all of the pages related to Verdun are at the bottom of this page. These photos are from a recent trip my brother in law Jean Pierre and I made together.
Our first view of the Verdun Citadelle
Jean Pierre in front of the Verdun Citadelle
Our first stop is the immense Citadelle of Verdun. I can only guess at the dimensions, but the roof must be 20 to 40 acres. The vertical height of the walls somewhere between 40 to 60 feet. And even though we ended up walking around it, I can't tell if the Citadelle was built up from the ground or if it was cut out of a hill. Cutting it out of a hill would have made a lot more sense, but there is a wall along the backside which separates it from the plateau that is behind the Citadelle.
Verdun Citadelle entrance
The exterior is the same perfectly cut porous gray stone that one sees on all of the old buildings of Paris. We make our way past the outer grass covered ramparts into what is already starting to look foreboding just as we arrive. There is a funnel like entrance that looks like a small version of the entrance into Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado (NORAD). The stone goes straight up to the entrance. And from then on in, it's classic red brick with barrel vaulted ceiling and a width which was probably designed around some ideal figure that military designers seem to love like "all tunnels must be wide enough to allow four men marching abreast. Or maybe the tunnels had to be wide enough to be able to tow a famed French 75mm gun. I don't know. But whatever the ideal, it was one of the standardized widths we would run into over and over on our trip.
Verdun Citadelle interior
We entered, paid, and then stood in line for maybe 20 minutes. The inside of the Citadelle was dark, cool and moist – like a cave. We got on a small electric vehicle made probably by Peugeot or perhaps the folks who make the Smart Car. Actually it was rather like a large golf cart and thus larger than a Smart Car, so who knows who made it. In any case, it's quiet, automated and unattended and was being guided by some kind of small metal tracks into what I guessed was a relatively new concrete floor. We were shepherded on to the car like we were getting on a ride at Six Flags or Disney.
Verdun Citadelle - our ride
Verdun Citadelle - looking back at those still waiting
Verdun Citadelle -bakery
Verdun Citadelle 22
I lost track of time. The "ride" seemed long while we were going through, but ended up seeming short once we finished. It took us through various passageways that were all much larger than the one we had walked through. These were darkened living quarters, cooking and baking rooms, dining rooms, ammunition storage areas and much more. The vehicle prodded along forward most of the time, though from time to time, it would move forward into a room, stop while an automated video came on and then back up with perfect discipline before turning forward and continuing on again.
Verdun Citadelle - Visitor Gallery
We ended up in a large vaulted brick gallery full of small arms and uniforms.
And thus ended our trip into the Verdun Citadelle.
Verdun Citadelle 31
Verdun Citadelle 34
Verdun Citadelle 35
Verdun Citadelle 37
Verdun Citadelle 39
Verdun Citadelle - southeast corner
Verdun Citadelle - view as we head into town
Verdun was only supplied by one primary road - now "La Voie Sacree". So if the Germans had been able to complete the encirclement or even get relatively close (and they weren't that far), they could have bombarded the road and thus cut off Verdun's supply line.
In fact, that begs the question of why the Germans didn't simply go after La Voie Sacree rather than try to eliminate the Verdun's fort directly.
Verdun - Index
- Verdun - Driving from Paris
- Verdun - Fort Douaumont, p.1
- Verdun - Fort Douaumont, p. 5
- Verdun - Fort Douaumont, p.2
- Verdun - Fort Douaumont, p.3
- Verdun - Fort Douaumont, p.4
- Verdun Citadelle
- Verdun - the city
- Fort Vaux, p.1
- Fort Vaux, p.2
- Verdun - Douaumont Ossuary
- Verdun - Douaumont Ossuary, p.2
- Departing Verdun
- Verdun FAQs
- Links to other websites for further information about Verdun