June 15, 2018

WATERLOO

18 June 1815. On that momentous day that changed the course of history, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the Duke of Wellington who led a British force allied with several countries. It happened on the undulating plains of this town just a few kilometers outside of Brussels. The battle was fought fiercely under rainy conditions that churned the ground in the fields into a muddy quagmire making it extremely difficult for the two sides to use their cannons and cavalry. By employing a brilliant defensive strategy making use of the prevailing topography and backed up by the Prussians whom Napoleon thought was a spent force, the Brits routed the French which forced the Emperor of France to abdicate and go into exile. It also ushered in a long era of peace in the Continent.

At the site is a 43-meter high hill called the Lion’s Mound, built out of 300,000 cubic meters of earth from the battlefield itself which you can climb thru a 225-step concrete staircase to the top and view the surrounding farmland which still remains as it was 200 years ago. A huge cast-iron statue of a lion stands on a marble pedestal with its paw on a sphere signifying victory and courage. There is also an amphitheater where you can view a circular mural depicting the battle with a surround sound system. It is a delightful place to visit specially for amateur history buffs like me.

A panoramic view of the battlefield from the top of Lion’s Mound.
The Mound dominates the landscape.
You gotta climb these steps to view the battlefield.
La Haye Sainte, the walled farmhouse where one of the fiercest battles was fought.
The entrance to the complex with underground parking.
A 3D display explains the location of the engaging forces during the battle.
Binoculars help you examine the landscape closer.
Another entrance to the site.
A panel of the painted circular mural depicting the action.
Wine sold at the souvenir shop.
The lion stands atop this marble pedestal. It was patterned after the Dutch heraldric symbol since Prince William II of the Netherlands, one of the coalition’s commanders, was wounded here.
The surroundings are still being farmed today.
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