Bastogne

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Bastogne
Municipality of Belgium
St Peter's church
St Peter's church
Flag of Bastogne
Flag
Coat of arms of Bastogne
Coat of arms
Bastogne is located in Belgium
Bastogne
Bastogne
Location in Belgium
Coordinates: 50°0.25′N 05°43.2′E / 50.00417°N 5.7200°E / 50.00417; 5.7200Coordinates: 50°0.25′N 05°43.2′E / 50.00417°N 5.7200°E / 50.00417; 5.7200
Country Belgium
Community French Community
Region Wallonia
Province Luxembourg
Arrondissement Bastogne
Government
 • Mayor Philippe Collard
 • Governing party/ies Avenir
Area
 • Total 172.03 km2 (66.42 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2012)[1]
 • Total 15,098
 • Density 88/km2 (230/sq mi)
Postal codes 6600
Area codes 061
Website www.bastogne.be

Bastogne (French pronunciation: ​[bas.tɔɲ], Dutch: Bastenaken, German: Bastenach, Luxembourgish: Baaschtnech) is a Walloon municipality of Belgium located in the province of Luxembourg in the Ardennes. The municipality of Bastogne includes the old communes of Longvilly, Noville, Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, and Wardin. The town is situated on a ridge in the Ardennes at an elevation of 510 m.

History[edit]

At the time of the Roman conquest the region of Bastogne was inhabited by the Treveri, a tribe of Gauls. A form of the name Bastogne was first mentioned only much later, in 634, when the local lord ceded these territories to the St Maximin's Abbey, near Trier. A century later, the Bastogne area went to the nearby Prüm Abbey. The town of Bastogne and its marketplace are again mentioned in an 887 document. By the 13th century, Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor and Count of Luxemburg, was minting coins in Bastogne. In 1332, John the Blind, his son, granted the city its charter and had it encircled by defensive walls, part of which, the current Porte de Trèves, still exists. In 1451, the lands of the county of Luxemburg were absorbed into the Duchy of Burgundy and as a result, Bastogne became part of the lands of the Spanish Crown when the Burgundian heir Charles became King of Spain in 1516.

The city’s walls were quite effective at protecting it during the troubled times that followed. The city’s economy actually flourished thanks to the renown of its agricultural and cattle fairs. The walls repelled a Dutch attack successfully in 1602. In 1688, they were dismantled by order of King Louis XIV when the town was occupied by French forces during the Nine Years War.

The 19th century and Belgium's independence were favourable to Bastogne, as its forest products and cattle fairs became better known abroad. Several railway lines were built to link it to the neighbouring towns. This all came to an end with the German occupation during World War I.

World War II[edit]

Liberated by the Allies in late 1944, Bastogne was attacked by German forces shortly after. Hitler was, again, looking for control of the Ardennes. The goal was to advance to Antwerp, to cut off supply and separate British from American troops. On December 16, taking advantage of the cold and the fog, the German artillery started the so-called Battle of the Bulge by attacking the sparsely deployed American troops around Bastogne. A few days later, Brigadier General McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne Division along with elements of the 10th Armored Division (United States) and the 82nd airborne arrived to counter-attack but, after heavy fighting, became encircled within the town. On December 22, German emissaries asked for the American surrender, to which the General answered quite briefly, “Nuts!” The next day, the weather cleared up, allowing air retaliation and the parachuting of much needed food, medicine, and weaponry. On December 26, troops under the command of General Patton broke the deadlock. The official end of the Battle of Bastogne only occurred three weeks later, when all fighting finally stopped.

Bastogne is also where ends the Liberty Road (France) which marks the victorious route of the Allied forces and of George S. Patton's Third Army.

Localities[edit]

The municipality of Bastogne comprises five sections (Bastogne proper, Longvilly, Noville, Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, and Wardin) which were separate municipalities before a merger in 1977. Each contains a number of villages.

Sights[edit]

  • The Porte de Trèves, part of the defensive walls that had been erected in the 14th century by John the Blind, can still be seen.
  • The Romanesque tower of St Pierre church and its baptismal fonts also date from the Middle Ages.
  • The Mardasson Memorial, erected near Bastogne to honour the memory of the American soldiers wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Monuments to Brigadier General McAuliffe, General Patton and others can be found around town.
  • The Bastogne Historical Museum dedicated to the 1944-1945 battle was closed as of April 2011 for long-term renovation, and the collection moved to Brussels.
  • At the military base ("caserne"), which is about 5 blocks from the Place de St. Pierre, there is a military museum in the process of being set up and expanded. Outside, on the main military parade ground, can be seen a number of tanks and armored vehicles. This base is where the Americans had their headquarters during the 1944 battle; all the original buildings are still there, including the basement office where General McAuliffe issued the famous "Nuts!" response to the German demand for surrender. Inside are several rooms with extensive equipment and small arms. There is one room dedicated to various types of period radio and communications equipment. Much of this collection appears to be on loan from various local Bastogne families who have had the items since 1944. Access to the museum appears to involve knocking at the main base's gate to ask to see the museum, at which point one is told (in French) to wait outside for a few minutes while the museum curator, who is an active Belgian military officer, comes to provide access and a tour in English. No formal entry fee, but donations accepted.
  • Recogne German war cemetery, 6 km to the North. Contains the graves of 6,807 German soldiers.
The Mardasson Memorial to soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944

Folklore[edit]

The key character of all legends around Bastogne is the so-called piche-cacaye.[2] This is pronounced pish-cackay.

Transportation[edit]

Bastogne originally had an NMBS/SNCB railway line connecting it to Libramont and to Gouvy. Passenger trains to Gouvy stopped in 1984 [3] and in the 1990s the line to Libramont was taken out of service.[4][5] The two station buildings in Bastogne remain, but are now used for other purposes. Part of the rail line has been converted into a cycle path.However, two bus stations are now open in Bastonge, according to SNCB,Bastogne Nord and Bastonge Sud. The short line that runs is only a rural shuttle line from Bastogne Nord to libramont stopping only at Bastogne Sud

Sports[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

External links[edit]