Fort IllangeFort Illange
©Fort Illange|Elodie Conti - PTT

Illange Fort

between stroll and history

It’s off for a nature walk in Illange. Once parked, I get out of my car on the Route de Thionville. I take a short path along the edge of the forest. It climbs straight up, a good warm-up for the visit ahead. After a few minutes’ walk, I find myself in front of a site presentation panel. I have 3 options: the circular tour in blue, the historical tour in yellow or the botanical tour in green. I opt for the 2,200-metre historical tour.

Rémi - Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme20200124 Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme 012
©Rémi - Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme

A former local expert and military heritage enthusiast, he takes you on a tour of the Fort d'Illange historical trail.

The little extras

Enjoy a walk on the edge of the forest

Make surprising discoveries

Discover local history

Feste Illingen

A little historical background. Following the French defeat in 1870, the Moselle became German under the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871. At the end of the 19th century, the Germans decided to fortify the Moselle valley around Metz and Thionville. This was the birth of the Moselstellung.

Around Thionville, 3 new-generation forts were built: Guentrange, Koenigsmacker and Illange. These are known as Festen. The Illange fort was built on a hill between 1904 and 1910. It can accommodate 1,177 men. Its mission was to protect the outlets on the left bank of the Moselle, in particular from the railroads coming from Luxembourg and Meurthe et Moselle, and to block their passage.

Mother Nature and

Hidden Memory

I continue my journey to discover the fort. Suddenly, bits of concrete appear on my right. I take a closer look. I’m standing on part of the infantry parapet. It protects the approaches to the fort. I begin to make my way into a metal section. In front of me, small openings for observation. There’s a squirrel. At the time, it was used to keep an eye out for potential enemy incursions. I’m in a snail’s nest.

To complete its upstream defense, the fort is protected by a network of barbed wire. The access points are gated to allow passage if necessary.


the soldiers’ lives

I return to the path and continue my visit. Once again, a metallic shape emerges from the vegetation. This time, I’m at the level of an observation bell. It’s used to direct the fort’s artillery fire. But the fort also has 3 infantry positions with barracks and shelters. All linked by underground galleries.

Following the defeat of June 1940, the German army occupied the Illange fort. This is the moment for me to see the essential element in the fort’s defense: its artillery battery. It is equipped with 4 turrets for 10 cm guns.

La Feste goes into action

The fort experienced its baptism of fire in August 1944. In September, American troops captured the fort at Guentrange. An artillery battle begins between the Festen. The situation remained at a standstill for 2 months. On November 11, the right bank of the Moselle was liberated. The fort was attacked. It was recaptured on November 14, 1944.

I’m interested


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Feste Illingen has a lot to offer!
Today, this 40-hectare wooded area is a great place for walking. A signposted trail offers a variety of themes: history, botany and a fitness trail. The historical theme focuses on the exterior of the military works. The interior of the buildings is not open to visitors.