The name Waterloo strikes up different images in people’s minds, maybe ABBA at the Eurovision song contest or a busy London tube station, but Rosie Khdir rediscovers the Waterloo that was scene of an epic European battle 195 years ago.
This year mark the 195th anniversary of Napoleon’s Defeat by the combined armies of the Seventh Coalition, and this weekend will see Belgium come alive with celebrations of this victory.
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was the last stand that saw Napoleon toppled from his position as ruler of the French empire.
The armies of the United Kingdom, Prussia, the United Provinces, Hanover, Nassau and Brunswick fought in the fields at Waterloo, in modern-day Belgium, and in three days defeated his army of 72,000 men.
The celebrations start with an hour-long Battle of Waterloo-inspired firework and light spectacle at 10 p.m. Then on Saturday visitors are able to travel to the Napoleonic bivouacs, to discover the everyday life of a typical soldier in the imperial army.
Also taking place during the weekend will be a full scale reenactment of the battle with over 3,000 soldiers and Napoleon himself – who is often played by an American actor. Access to these events is free.
Visitors can also learn more about the battle and its participants via the Wellington Museum, which used to be the Bodenghien Inn and former headquarters of the Duke of Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo.
For more information visit the official tourism site for the Waterloo region.
P&O Ferries does a great value service from Hull – Zeebrugge, or you can take the Dover – Calais route from where it is just a short drive along the E40 to the Belgian border. Prices start at just £30 for a car and up to nine people.
Painting by Robert Alexander Hillingford