Bastogne is a Walloon town in southern Belgium and it was scene of one of the most notorious struggles of World War II: the Battle of the Bulge took place in winter 1944–45 between the retreating Nazis and US troops during the final, ill-fated German offensive against the Allies. Most of the town’s attractions relate to this landmark battle, including the star-shaped Mardasson American War Memorial, which pays homage to the 80,000 US soldiers killed or wounded between December 1944 and the end of January 1945 in the closing days of the war.
Inaugurated in 1950, the white marble mausoleum was designed by Belgian modernist architect Georges Dedoyard to represent the five-pointed stars on the US flag, supported by slender columns and with a memorial garden at its heart. Inscriptions on the walls of the monument depict the insignia of the American battalions involved in the fighting and the names of the (then) 48 states of the USA. A subterranean crypt has three altars for multi-denominational prayers and is decorated with glittering mosaics by French artist Fernand Léger. Accessible by spiral
staircase, views from atop the memorial take in the rolling Ardennes countryside and the Wood of Peace, planted in 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge; plaques on the roof terrace indicate the layout of the battlegrounds.