On 19 jan. 2011 I visited with my friend Joop van Keulen the Pyramide van Austerlitz near Utrecht, in the middle of the Netherlands. Here are some details!
(52.5'17.7" N; 5.20'24.6" E)
1. The monument of Marmont.
The Pyramide van Austerlitz has been erected on the 12th of october 1804 by the 30-years old French general Auguste F.L.V. de Marmont as a memorial of the camping of his 18.000 amy men on the moor of Zeist. Officialy he dedicated this monument to Napoleon who was crowned emperor that year.
Marmont choose for a simple memorial that he could quickly and cheap build and that would last for ages: a piramid of earth and turf with a wooden obelisk and a senic view. It was indeed a beautiful view over the moor and the Zuidezee (now called: IJsselmeer). From this lake an English invasian could be expected.
In 1806 king Louis Napoleon gave this monument the name of 'Pyramide van Austerlitz' in honour of the Battle of Austerlitz in Techia, won by his brother. Since the village nearby the army camp is also called Austerlitz.
When Marmont left in 1805 the piramide was later fallen into disrepair. In 1894 the major J.P.de Beaufort placed a new stone obelisk.
Marmont's inspiration for this monument was the Piramid of Gizeh he had seen during the Campaign of Egypt with Napoleon in 1798. Even the steps were copied.
After the Egyptian Campaign all kinds of Egyptian motives became popular in Europe. This Egyptian mania was seen in gravestones in the form of piramids. But the greatest piramid of Europe you can see here!
First this piramid was called 'the hill of Marmont'. For this French general this memorial was the centre of Holland. It is 49,5 m above seelevel. By beuatiful weather you were able to see the Zuiderzee, Amsterdam, Breda, Zwolle and the towers of Utrecht and Amersfoort. Nowadays this is over, there are woods all around.
4. Construction and guardning.
On the 10th of september 1084 Marmont and his soldiers started to build. A leaden box containing a parchment with all the names of the soldiers was put in. This box was digged out in 1893.
After 27 days about 30.000 cubic meters of earth were moved for the 36m high piramid, who has 40 steps on a 2m high basement. Then the 13m high wooden obelisk was placed. A circle of 90m was digged around the piramid.
On the 12th of october was the festive opening and on the 21th of october there was a great dinner.
Only in march 1805 the four great memory stones dedicated to Napoleon and his great victories were attached on the piramid.
For guardning and repair Marmont appoitnted three married soldiers for whom he let build little houses round the piramid. He expected this place to become a village, called 'Marmontville', but this didn't happen.
The houses were demolished in 1836.