Citadelle de Bitche

Burg von Bitsch

Useful Information

Location: Rue de Bombelles, 57230 Bitche.
(49.051525, 7.429125)
Open: Mid-MAR to JUN Mon-Fri 10-18, Sat, Sun 10-18:30.
JUL to AUG daily 10-18:30.
SEP to mid-DEC Mon-Fri 10-18, Sat, Sun 10-18:30.
Last entyr 90 minutes before closing.
Fee: Adults EUR 10, Children (7-17) EUR 8, Children (0-6) free, Students EUR 8, Seniors EUR 8, Disabled EUR 8, Family (2+2) EUR 30.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 8, Children (7-17) EUR 6, Students EUR 6.
With Jardin pour la Paix: Adults EUR 12.50, Children (7-17) EUR 9.50, Children (0-6) free, Students EUR 9.50, Seniors EUR 10.50, Disabled EUR 10.50, Family (2+2) EUR 38.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 9.50, Children (7-17) EUR 7, Students EUR 7.
Classification: SubterraneaCasemates TopicLigne Maginot
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=2 h, underground 1 h. Self guided, audioguides
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Citadelle de Bitche, Rue de Bombelles, 57230 Bitche.
Régie Municipale de la Citadelle de Bitche, Hôtel de Ville, 31, rue du Mal Foch, 57230 Bitche, Tel: +33-387-961882, Fax: +33-387-961178. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1172 mentioned as Bytis Castrum.
1297 passed by marriage from the dukes of Lorraine to Eberhardt II, Graf von Zweibrücken, who chose it as seat of government.
1572 after the Zweibrücken family went extinct, Karl III, Duke of Lorraine, reclaimed it.
1606 transformed into a fortified castle by Karl III.
1624 captured by the French during the 30 Years War.
1681 start of construction by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.
1683 completed.
1697 Lothringen returned to Herzog Leopold by the peace of Rijswijk, fortress destroyed by the leaving French.
1741 restored by the Comte de Bombelles, military governor of Bitche, after Vauban's layout, modernized by the military engineer Cormontaigne.
1754 completed, result proved impregnable up until the 20th century.
1793 attack by the Prussians repulsed.
1815 during Napoleon's Hundred Days, Bitche was besieged by General Zollern's Fourth Infantry Division of the Austrian IV Corps, until the general armistice.
1870 besieged for 230 days during the Franco-Prussian War until the French government ordered them to surrender after the ceasefire in 1871.
1871 became German as part of Alsace-Lorraine, renamed Burg von Bitsch.
1918 returned to France after World War I.
1938 integrated into the Maginot Line.
1940 under German occupation.
JUL-1944 liberated by Allied troops but relinquished during the German counteroffensive.
1944-1945 destroyed by bombardments of the Allies.
MAR-1945 U.S. 100th Infantry Division brakes through the Maginot Line in the Bitche area and liberates the town for good.
1945 Bitche becomes military camp for all parts of the French army during the Cold War.
1960 owned by the municipality of Bitche.
1979 citadel listed as a Historic Monument.
1983 3D map listed as a Historic Monument.
2005-2007 Garrison Chapel was restored to its 18th century appearance.


The Citadelle de Bitche was built by the most famous architect of castles, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, between 1681 and 1683. It was destroyed a few years later and rebuilt between 1740 and 1754. Now it finally was considered an impregnable fortress, a masterpiece of French military art. The central platform is flanked by four bastions and by two heads which are a result of the elongated hill, the demi-lune or small head to the southwest and the corner construction or large head to the northeast.

The reason why this fort is listed on are the underground casemates. They give an impression of the importance of the fort, with enormous bunkers, one of the loveliest wells in Europe, a cowshed, and an underground hospital. Even the kitchen and the bakery are bombproof and cut out of solid rock. Today there is an impressive audiovisual tour through the casemates which includes 12 films and numerous sound explanations. The tour takes about one hour, and warm clothes are recommended for the cool casemates. The entrance fee includes the underground route, the cinematographic route, the outdoor heritage route, and the museums. Visitors get audioguides, guided tours are available for groups only. For the Jardin pour la Paix (Garden of Peace) there is a small additional fee, but it is open only during summer, weather depending.

The Garrison Chapel was restored between 2005 and 2007 to its 18th century appearance. It contains one of the highlights of the tour, the historical model of Bitche. The 3D model was created in 1794 in a scale of 1:600. Together with a vast collection of relief maps representing French strongholds, it was kept at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris. Following the Napoleonic defeats of 1815, Prussian General Blücher removed several models and took them to Berlin. In 1903 the German Emperor Wilhelm II returned them by offering them to the museum of Metz. In 1982 the model was relocated to the chapel, and after it was listed as a Historic Monument in 1983, it was restored in 1985 for the first time.

The new museum on the War of 1870 is located in the remains of the old bakery. This Franco-Prussian War was the one time the citadel was actually besieged. Bismarck was dreaming of the unification of Germany under the aegis of Prussia, and an external enemy always speeds up unification. A successful war would help him there, and so it's hard to say who actually started the war. France felt slapped by the Emser Depesche (dispatch from Ems) and declared war on 19-JUL-1870. On 08-AUG-1870 the Citadel was besieged by the Germans who set up their batteries on the surrounding heights. Louis-Casimir Teyssier held the place for about eight months with 3,000 men against about 20,000 Prussian and Bavarian soldiers. The siege lasted 230 days and ended when the French government ordered him to surrender after the ceasefire in 1871.