Waterloo Memorial 1815 & Lion's Mound (Wallonia - Belgium)

Everyone with the slightest hint of European history knows of Napoleon Bonaparte! And, you've also heard of Napoleonic wars, the last one of which he lost! Did you know, that very site is actually in today's Belgium?! I've been wanting to visit this place since ages. Its located very very close to Brussels, but I didn't go! Reason - the public transport to reach here is a poor. I'll tell more about it at the end of the post. Anyways, the prime site - Waterloo is well connected by public transport from Brussels and we reached there. In a whole there are 7 sites - 5 together at Waterloo, 1 in Wellington and 1 in Maison du-Roi.
Our first stop was, ofcourse Waterloo. 4 of the sites here together is called Memorial 1815. The prime location is the Lion's Mound which is visible from far away! Just around it are Memorial, Panorama and Hougomont Farm. 
Here's a bit of history to understand what's the site about. 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 atleast 20 other wars incl. Hundred Years' War ended with this Battle of Waterloo. //So yeah, the not-so-friendliness of French & English towards each other is due to 600yrs of history!!!// To begin with, Waterloo was originally under Netherlands. Here was the battle between Napoleon's army and the combined army of Prussia and England! 
Before this Napoleon Bonaparte was 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 the decided to put an end to his empire and declared war. Russia, Prussia and other nations 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. At this point was the final battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815 which he lost and was sent to exile to St.Helena, a British island in middle of Atlantic ocean.  


Today, the Lion's Mound is an artificial hill that was created from the soil from Wellington (another battle took place there earlier in the day). Below this hill is the Memorial 1815, which is a museum that explains about the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte beginning from 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.
Beyond this is the staircase/lift to reach the Panorama. This was made in 1912 by Louis Dumoulin, a French painter. Quite an interesting piece. Its like a circular tent with paintings and installations of battlefield all around. 


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 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. 


From this site to Hougomont Farm is a 15 min walk, but there is a free Shuttle bus every half an hour. This is infact 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 defending it from inside and trying to get hold of it from the woods outside. Almost the entire farm has suffered 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 in the site that are dedicated to the 6000+ bravemen to lost their lives at this very spot. 


As the name suggests, this is a huge farm which 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! 
Close to this site is Mont-Saint-Jean Farm. Its again a 15 mins walk from Lion's Mound but in the opposite direction. This farm served as the make-shift field hospital. Today its a museum which explains how, not just primary care, but even surgeries were performed here. 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 on either directions of Lion's Mound. 
Wellington is where the Wellingon Museum is and in Maison du-Roi is the Last Headquarters of Napoleon. Wellington Museum is dedicated to the Battle day and 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-Roi is that the buses are only once in 2-3 hrs. After considering a bit, we skipped 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 on the Lion's mound. 
Here's 1 more tip: The Lion's Mound does NOT have an elevator. So its not wheelchair friendly. If you're traveling with a kid, do carry a babycarrier.

To Get There:
From Brussels to Lion's Mound: 30km. 
Car or private vehicle is definitely the best mode of transport. 
Intercity Trains from Brussels Central take you to Braine-l'Alleud / Eigenbrakel and from there, a bus can be taken. However that bus is not really frequent. So we chose to walk that 2.3km.
Wellington can be reached by train as well, and its 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-Roi, the buses are once every 2-3 hrs which is not very comfortable to rely on! While the bus is once every hour in weekdays, it becomes once every 2-3 hr in 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 its made a paid service with a small extra cost of say, 5 euros. 
On Google Maps: Lion's MoundMemorial 1815, Panorama, Hougomont Farm, Mont Saint Jean Farm, Wellington Museum, Last Headquarters of Napoleon


Entry Tickets & Timings:
€20 - Pass 1815 is a combined ticket for all 7 places
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. 

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. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

15 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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