Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Belgium: Waterloo-Clash of the Titans

No visit to Belgium would be complete without a visit to perhaps the most famous battlefield in the world. Truly Wellington and Napoleon were the Titans of their time.

The first place to visit in Waterloo is the Tourist Office, which is located very near the Wellington Museum. Here, you may purchase a combination ticket to all the sights, which will save you a considerable amount of money if you plan to visit them all.

The Wellington Museum - This should be your first official stop. Not only because Wellington was the victor, but because of its central location in downtown Waterloo.

The Wellington Museum

Allow at least an hour to take the headphone tour of the museum.

Cross the Street and visit St. Joseph Church. What began as a Royal Chapel has evolved into a memorial to the fallen heroes of Waterloo.

The Tourist Information Center is located about 3 miles from the center of Waterloo. You can park your car here and visit the Panorama, The Wax Museum, Lion Hill, and the Information Center itself.

Lion Hill

Napoleon's Headquarter is the farthest away from the town of Waterloo, and you can finish your visit here.

Quick suggestions:

Waterloo on its own is a very nice little town to just walk around and do a little shopping. Most visitors, however, come here to visit the sights associated with the great battle that took place on a Sunday, July 18, 1815. The future of all of Europe hung in the balance that one day, and even into the afternoon it was uncertain who would be the victor. The late arrival of Blucher and his Prussian troops swung the balance in favor of the English, and as we say, the rest is history.

If you don’t have a working knowledge of early 19th-century European history, it is probably a good idea to pick up a book and familiarize yourself before visiting Waterloo.

If you have the time, and we didn’t, I would recommend that, in addition to the regular sights, you also search out all the monuments dedicated to the different groups who took part in the battle. They are scattered throughout the area. One disadvantage of coming in January is that the days are short. You certainly can see all the main sights in just one day.

Death Mask of Napoleon

To get around, you will need to have a car. The Wellington Museum and St. Joseph Church are right downtown. There is plenty of free parking in downtown Waterloo - just follow the signs. The large lot is located about a block off the main street. There is also free parking at The Panorama, Lions Mound, the Wax Museum, and the Visitor Center. We, of course, were there in January, when the crowds were small. I can imagine that in warm weather, parking might be more of a problem. There were tour buses coming from Brussels, so I am sure you can arrange for an organized tour if your base is Brussels and you don’t have a car.

 "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. " Napoleon Bonapart

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