Hidden Belgium: One of the largest military structures ever built

Hidden Belgium: One of the largest military structures ever built

An enormous Belgian military complex is hidden below the Sint-Pietersberg near the village of Eben-Emael.

Built in 1935 close to the Dutch border, this massive concrete fortification was designed to protect a weak point on the Belgian frontier. One of the largest military structures ever built, it comprised 17 bunkers linked by a network of underground tunnels.

On the eve of World War Two, Eben-Emael was like an underground town, with kitchens, bedrooms, showers, a hospital and even a barber shop. It was considered the strongest fort in Europe, yet on 10 May 1940 a small team of German paratroopers landed on the roof in gliders and captured the stronghold in less than 15 minutes.

The abandoned and crumbling fort is still owned by the army, but certain parts have been converted into a military museum. It is a rather cold, menacing place to explore.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.


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