Waterloo Memorial 1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte's last battlefield

MEMORIAL / WAR TOURISM IN BELGIUM
 
Everyone with the slightest hint of European history knows who is Napoleon Bonaparte! And, you've also heard of Napoleonic wars and the last one of which he lost! Did you know, that the very site where he lost his last war is actually in today's Belgium?! I've been wanting to visit this place for ages. It is located very very close to Brussels, but I didn't go! Reason - the public transport to reach here is not really good on weekends. I'll tell you more about it at the end of the post. Anyways, the prime site - Waterloo is well connected by train from Brussels and we reached there. On the whole, there are 7 sites - 5 together at Waterloo, 1 in Wellington and 1 in Maison du Caillou.

Waterloo Lion's Mound Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Memorial 1815 Napoleon's last battlefield

DAY TRIP FROM BRUSSELS TO WATERLOO 
Our first stop was, of course Waterloo. 4 of the sites here together is called Memorial 1815 and we walked here from the Waterloo railway station. The prime location is the Lion's Mound which is visible from far away! Just around it are the Memorial, Panorama and Hougomont Farm. 

ANGLO-FRENCH HISTORY 
Here's a bit of history to understand what's the site about. The first of the various Anglo-French wars began in Normandy in 1202  CE with King John of England and Philip II of France and then there were at least 20 other wars incl. the Hundred Years' War. The last of these wars was the Napoleonic War and the last battle of this war was the Battle of Waterloo. //So yeah, the not-so-friendliness of French & English towards each other is due to 600yrs of history!!!// To begin with, when the Battle of Waterloo happened, Belgium didn't exist. This region was under the Netherlands and Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of France. The Battle of Waterloo (Bataille de Waterloo) was the battle between Napoleon's French army and the combined army of Prussia and England! 

POST-FRENCH REVOLUTION & NAPOLEONIC WARS
By this time of the Battle of Waterloo (Bataille de Waterloo) Napoleon Bonaparte has already been the Emperor of France for 10 years after French Revolution and under him, France rose to heights of glory and its empire expanded very well, thanks to the wins of various Napoleonic Wars. Obviously, this irked England and they decided to put an end to his empire and declared war. Russia, Prussia and other nations (called together as 'Allies') joined hands with England and after a series of wars, Napoleon was sent to exile which he escaped and again tried to re-capture his empire. 

THE BATTLE AT WATERLOO & EXILE TO ST.HELENA
After his escape from Elba island (very close to the coast of Italy) he landed in France and soon with the help of his supporters, formed a big army! At this point, Duke of Wellington pledged that he would defeat Napoloen Bonaparte. During the final battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was attacked by Duke of Wellington of England on one side and Prince Blucher of Prussia on another. Napoleon's army couldn't withstand and lost the battle. This date 18th June 1815 is the Battle of Waterloo. He escaped the battlefield and tried to find supporters again, but this time, in vain. He later surrendered and then Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to St.Helena, a British island in middle of Atlantic ocean. This is literally in the middle of nowhere with the nearest mainland being about 1800km+. Napoleon Bonaparte was held in captivity in Longwood House in St.Helena which was where died on 05 May 1821.

Waterloo Memorial 1815 Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Memorial 1815 Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Memorial 1815 Panorama Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Lion's Mound Butte de Leon Napoleon's last battlefield

BATTLE OF WATERLOO (BATAILLE DE WATERLOO)

MEMORIAL 1815 WATERLOO MUSEUM 
The Lion's Mound is an artificial hill that was created from the soil of Wellington. Below this hill is the Memorial 1815, which is a museum that explains the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte beginning from the French Revolution till the Battle of Waterloo. A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo is at the end of the tour as a 3D movie which gives a very clear idea of what happened on that very day from dawn to dusk.

PANORAMA OF THE BATTLEFIELD
Beyond this is the staircase/lift to reach the PanoramaI thought Panorama is the Lion's Mound, because it gave a panoramic view, but it isn't. This was made in 1912 by Louis Dumoulin, a French painter. Quite an interesting piece. It is like a circular tent with paintings and installations of battlefields all around. 

LION's MOUND (BUTTE DU LEON)
Beyond this is the door to go out and climb the Lion's Mound. It can get pretty windy because this is surrounded by fields and plains and nothing tall enough to break the wind! So on a windy, cold, rainy day it can get very chilly and it can almost push you! It is 40m tall and there are 226 steps to reach this (that's 2/3rd the height of Big Ben!). The lion atop is made of cast iron in 1826, hardly 10 yrs after the battle. 

HOUGOUMONT FARM
From this site to Hougomont Farm is a 15 min walk, but there is a free Shuttle bus every half an hour. This is in fact the most important site in the Battle of Waterloo. Holding of the Hougomont farm was very crucial to the outcome of the battle and a very fierce fight took place here. Wellington's army was defending it from inside and Napoleon's Army was trying to get hold of it from the woods outside. Almost the entire farm has suffered a major fire that day. 
The Chateau of the farm was majorly destroyed. However it has been restored and today, a very interactive light & sound show gives a fantastic insight into the events of the day at this very spot. There are several plaques and memorials on the site that are dedicated to the 6000+ brave men who lost their lives at this very spot. 
As the name suggests, this is a huge farm that also has a small chapel and there is a crucifix here. One of the legs of Jesus Christ is missing here. But guess what, this has been in existence much before the battle day, since 16th C CE and somehow the crucifix has survived the fire of the day! 

Waterloo Lion's Mound Butte de Leon Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

MONT-SAINT-JEAN FARM
Close to this site is Mont-Saint-Jean Farm. It is again a 15 mins walk from Lion's Mound but in the opposite direction. This farm served as the make-shift field hospital. Today it is a museum that explains how, not just primary care, but even surgeries were performed here. Like how Abbey beers were brewed by monks to destroy the germs in water, here too, the soldiers brewed beer for the same purpose. Today, there's a microbrewery here that manufactures beers with the authentic technique and raw materials as it was done during the 19th C when the Battle of Waterloo happened.

So that's the 5 sites that are together. The 2 other sites are not at a walkable distance. One in Wellington and another in Maison du-Roi which are both 30 minutes by bus in either direction of Lion's Mound. When the Battle of Waterloo happened, Wellington & Napoleon had their headquarters at these 2 spots. 

WELLINGTON MUSEUM & LAST HEADQUARTERS OF NAPOLEON
Wellington is where the 
Wellingon Museum is and in Maison du-Roi is the Last Headquarters of Napoleon. Wellington Museum is dedicated to the Duke of Wellington and the battle from the point of view of Wellington. The Last Headquarters is primarily an exhibition of the French army, incl. even the Emperor's cot! While the buses to Wellington is every hour, the problem with Maison du-Caillou is that the buses are only once in 2-3 hrs. After thinking about it a bit, after considering the weather and Atyudarini, we chose to skip both these places. 

Here's a tip: Make sure to take the audio guide 1 per person even if you are not interested in each and every exhibit's explanation. You will need it for the 3D movie whose dialogues are in the audioguide in your language. This is applicable to both Memorial 1815 and Hougomont.
Here's 1 more tip: Carry a few euros in coins if you want to use the telescopes perched atop the Lion's mound. 
Here's 1 more tip: The Lion's Mound does NOT have an elevator. So it is not wheelchair friendly. If you're travelling with a kid, do carry a baby carrier.

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Hougoumont Farm Napoleon's last battlefield

Waterloo Butte du Leon Lion's Mound Napoleon's last battlefield

HOW TO REACH WATERLOO / LION's MOUND FROM BRUSSELS
From Brussels to Lion's Mound: 30km. 
A car or private vehicle is definitely the best mode of transport. 

The next best is probably to take a bike on the train to Waterloo and then bike to Wellington then Memorial 1815 and then Last Headquarters. 

How to reach Waterloo from Brussels by train: IC trains from Brussels Central take you to Braine-l'Alleud / Eigenbrakel and from there, a bus can be taken to Memorial 1815. However, that bus is not really frequent. So we chose to walk that 2.3km. The roads are great and stroller/wheel chair friendly.
Wellington can be reached by train as well, and it is the previous stop to Braine-l'Alleud / Eigenbrakel when coming from Brussels. Buses are available every half an hour from Lion's Mound to Wellington.

The bigger problem is to reach Maison du Caillou, the buses are once every 2-3 hrs which is not very comfortable to rely on! While the bus is once every hour on weekdays, it becomes once every 2-3 hr on weekends!
There is a shuttle bus that goes from Lion's Mound to Hougomont which operates every half hour. Instead, it would be great if they connect all places by shuttle, even if they reduce the frequency by once every hour and even if it is made a paid service with a small extra cost of say, 5 euros. 

WATERLOO MEMORIAL 1815 / LION's MOUND TICKETS
€22 - Pass 1815 is a combined ticket for all 6 places (except Mont-Saint-Jean Farm)
Only Wellington museum is included in Museumpassmusees

WATERLOO MEMORIAL 1815 / LION's MOUND OPENING HOURS
Wellington Museum and Napoleon's Last HQ: 9:30AM - 06:00PM & 10:00AM - 05:00PM in summer & winter respectively. 
Memorial 1815: 9:30AM - 6:00PM & 9:30AM -05:30PM in summer & winter respectively. 

MONT-SAINT-JEAN FARM / MICROBREWERY TICKETS
€10 - For a guided tour of microbrewery including a tasting session. Needs pre-booking via their website.
€7.5 - Mont-Saint-Jean Farm museum ticket
€14 - Combined ticket of museum & microbrewery

MONT-SAINT-JEAN FARM OPENING HOURS
Mon - 2:30PM to 6:00PM
Tue - Sun: 10:00AM to 6:00PM

Butte du Leon Lion's Mound Memorial 1815 Pinterest Hougoumont Farm Waterloo Memorial 1815 Pinterest


P.S: I was invited to Waterloo Tourism to experience the monument for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

16 comments:

  1. I have never hear about LIon's Mound it looks like very historical place because of Napoleon. I am glad you share a piece of history I had no idea about. Love to rad our blogs full of practical info and always learn something new.

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  2. I once visited the hometown of Napoleon on Corsica and remember the impressive stories of this small big man. But Waterloo! Just the name is already so strong and legendary, so visiting this place must be really a unique trip. I like the impressions of all the memorials and the museum, it gives an impression of this once glorious place. Great tips also regarding the public transport, how to get there since it seems it is not really that easy.

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  3. Great to read about this Lion's Mound memorial to the battle of Waterloo. We often take our car across to France and Belgium, so we could easily drive to reach it, meaning no issues with the lack of good public transport. I love the image of you climbing the mound, which finally impresses me with the scale of it!

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  4. Belgium has big history for such a small country. Such a lovely spot, and the museum looks like a hidden treasure under the hill. The cemetery and farm house are a great addition to the history.

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  5. Jane Dempster-SmithMarch 23, 2019 at 3:09 AM

    Such an important part of history I am surprised that transport is not more regularly available. Thanks for including all transport options. The view from the top of the Lions Mound after climbing the 226 steps would be worth it. I would be interested in the 3D movie, as my knowledge on the history of this area is limited.

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  6. I always love to read a little history of each place. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.— www.itsasweetsweetworld.com

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  7. Thanks, Bhushavali. I've added Waterloo Memorial & Lion's Mound to my bucket list. Next time in Brussels I want to go to Atom, that we missed in our last visit and Waterloo.

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  8. This place has been etched in our minds, thanks to our history books. I am surprised that transport is not as regular as it should be for an important historical place like this. Glad you included the transportation information. Climbing 226 steps for that view is totally worth it.

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  9. It is a pity to see that farm destroyed. It must have been quite a fierce battle indeed to cause such damage. Glad though that they have restored some bits of the surrounding. Loved reading the history about the place. Cheers

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  10. Taking this trip would be a great way to learn more about history. We are planning to visit Belgium next year and will definitely include this on our itinerary. Saving your post for future reference. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. You've climbed that hill with your baby?! OMG you are one super power Momma!
    Your baby is so lucky to experience these travels.
    Kidding aside, it seems that Napoleon never give up that easily.

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  12. I have heard and even studied so much about Waterloo in History lessons that this place raised my curiosity. It would great to see everything in person. Lion's mount at Memorial 1815 looks interesting. Panorma also looks nice due to circular tents with paintings and installations of war scenes.

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  13. Thanks for the mini history lesson! I find it so much easier to appreciate places knowing more about their background. The 3D movie sounds super cool too. Defs a great way to educate visitors. €20 for admision to all 7 places sounds fair as well. Would for sure love to check this out and attempt the 226-step climb to the top of Lion's Mound!

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  14. Very cool! Love getting a dose of culture in history in my travels to really get to know a destination.

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  15. This is a fascinating place with a ton of history, Bhushavali! I never know about Napoleon's exile or the island of St. Helena, which also looks like an incredibly interesting place! The most stunning part of this site for me is the Lion's Mound because it's just so incredibly symmetric. I'm also shocked at how tall it is!

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  16. This is a fascinating place with a ton of history, Bhushavali! I never know about Napoleon's exile or the island of St. Helena, which also looks like an incredibly interesting place! The most stunning part of this site for me is the Lion's Mound because it's just so incredibly symmetric. I'm also shocked at how tall it is!barcelonashortstay.net

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