Wallonia found itself in the frontline of Napoleon’s last stand at Waterloo and both World Wars, and a remarkable array of military relics, museums, forts, cemeteries and memorials makes the region a fascinating destination for memorial tourism, whether for a long weekend or an extended visit.
From Mons and Plugstreet in the west to Bastogne and Liège in the east there are sites of great historical interest, and Wallonia Belgium Tourism has produced a richly illustrated memorial magazine designed to accompany you on your visit to the key sites.
You can read, download or order a free copy of the magazine.
Wallonia in the Wars
By a strange twist of fate, Wallonia found itself at the frontline of three of the most important conflicts in modern European history.
The years 1815, 1914-18 and 1940-45 saw this blameless region invaded, occupied, pillaged and finally liberated.
Also see our calendar of special events that take place in Wallonia throughout the year.
We have also produced other useful memorial guides.
Tha battle of Waterloo
Map | Following In The Footsteps of Napoleon in Wallonia
© WBT - D. Brancart
Follow this 94 km route marked with informative history panels to follow Napoleon and his army's historical route in the last days before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
World War 1
Memorial Tourism in the Province of Liège
© Pronvince de Liège
Twice in a quarter of a century the Liège region had the tragic misfortune of being on the front line of major clashes that involved Belgium. Constructed at the end of the 19th century, the "Fortified Position of Liege" had to sustain the assault of August 1914 and then, strengthened and rearmed, the attack of May 1940. No fewer than eleven fortresses can still be visited.
The province of Namur at the heart of the Great War
© Province de Namur
As at Liège, Namur had been fortified between 1888 and 1892 with the construction of a ring of nine forts around the town to defend the Sambre and Meuse Rivers. The strategic importance of controlling the access to the valleys of the Sambre and the Meuse rivers offer a natural explanation for the strong presence of military operations in the region.
World War 2
May 1940 : The German Invasion
World War Two began officially in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. But it wasn’t until May 1940 when Hitler ordered a ‘blitzkrieg’ or concentrated air and land attack on Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands that allied action really begin to gain pace. The battlefront in WW2 was to become faster moving than in World War One both on ground and in air. The similarity was that both conflicts began with an attack on Belgium.
The Battle of the Ardennes, December 1944 – January 1945
The willpower and determination of the soldiers in what is also known as The Battle of the Ardennes re-wrote history forever. In the final confrontation of the Second World War taking place from the 16 December 1944, the defeat of a numerically superior enemy was sealed. Every year in villages and towns across Wallonia we remember with emotion, reverence and respect the brave soldiers who came from overseas to help bring peace to the region and paid with their lives.
Discover the Battle of the Bulge with this new map
© NARA - Coll. C.Dujardin
This map guides you to the emblematic and memorable places of the Battle of the Bulge. Discover traces of wartime past: memorials, cemeteries, tanks and museums.
Tours also lead you through the beautiful landscapes of southern Belgium.