At the end of 1918, thousands of bodies were discovered in Verdun. Charles Ginisty, Bishop of Verdun, decided to gather the bones of the unidentified soldiers in a place of remembrance. As a result, the building was inaugurated in 1932. Thus,130,000 soldiers from all walks of life are buried in the ossuary. In addition, 15,000 French soldiers were buried in the graves in front of the monument.
Today, inside the sanctuary, almost 4,000 engravings of the names of soldiers who died at Verdun cover the walls. From the top of the monument at nightfall, a light visible from 40km away watches over the thousands of soldiers who were not found on the battlefield.
At the beginning of your visit, you can watch a short film about the Battle of Verdun and the monument’s history. The cinema room of the ossuary also hosts occasional conferences and symposiums.
After visiting the abbey, a chapel welcomes visitors who wish to meditate. The stained glass windows represent scenes related to the war: a Frontsoldaten (a front line soldier), a nurse, and a battlefield panorama. Their very expressive faces remind us of the importance and intensity of the reality of the First World War. Today, the founders of the shrine are buried in the chapel.
They were determined to gather all lost soldiers, regardless of their nationality, division, position, or religion. In fact, a Muslim monument was built next to the ossuary. The ossuary tower, 46 meters high, also called “Lantern of the Dead,” offers a magnificent panorama on the battlefield. In addition, there is a scene depicting the lives of the soldiers from each side. At the top, you will also see the lighthouse and the bell, two potent symbols of the Battle of Verdun.