Sunday, January 01, 2006

WATERLOO & The reconstitution of the battle

Waterloo is a very special place, where Napoleon lost the battle against the Englishs, Scotts, Germans, and Dutchs. And finally this was the beginning of the end of Napoleon's area. But I don't want to give a history lesson here, that you can look up in any book.

But many people don't know why they are saying "He met his Waterloo" when somebody lost everything. That's of course because of this battle. When I went to the UK I was surprised that a lot of people thought, when I was talking about Waterloo, that I meant the "Waterloo" station in London ! Nobody seemed to know that Wellington winned and that's why the station was called "Waterloo".

When we moved to Waterloo in 1975, it was a small little country town, about 15 km from Brussels. We moved there because we wanted to get out of the city. Our garden was open on a huge cornfield and besides that cows were grazing and sleeping peacefully (but once one looked at me through the living window and scared me to death)

The center of the city was small with a few shops and a supermarket. And that was it. Waterloo didn't do very much for attracting Tourists to this historical place and the Lion of Waterloo looked sadly on the remaining buildings of the battle field.

The only attraction was the "Panorama" where you could see the whole bloody battle (and bloody it was) with some explanations about the battle. Climbing up the 256 steps (sorry if I added or missed a few steps) was free, you just had to give some francs to the guard.

The Lion hill was built in memory to the thousands of killed soldiers, by women carrying the earth in baskets and a rumor says that the hill was built with the bones of the killed soldiers. I don't know if that is true, (I haven't digged), but thrilling stories are always good for attracting people.

The headquater of Wellington in the city center had become a Museum where you could see Wellington's bed and other stuff belonging to him and his staff. It was a neglected Museum, with not many explanation and you could go in there for a very small fee. One Waterloo citizen told me that the kids used to play in that house and laying down in Wellington's bed which has the size of a kid's bed today.

Since then everything has changed in Waterloo ! It has become a very modern city, with all the important shops a lot of supermarkets, galleries, banks and an industrial park. The city center has been modernized but is still small, while around it a lot of houses were built and the city expanded tremendously. You don't have to go to Brussels any more for shopping, you can find everything in Waterloo.

And the Lion has changed too ! Now there is a tourist center, you can't get any more free on the Lion, it's surrounded by a fence. New restaurants moved in the old buildings which had been restored and the Panorama was repainted and looks beautifull now.

During the whole year a lot of tourists are visiting the Lion hill armed with cameras and videos and full packed busses are coming during spring and summer. There is always a lot to see.

When my husband and I want to have some holiday feelings we would go there, having a drink and watching the tourists. That gives you the feeling to be a tourist too. A lot of Waterloo citizen do that. Yes, Waterloo has become an international city. There are lots of English, American, Swedish and German people living here. English has almost become the second language due to the St. John's English speaking school. And of course if you tell somebody in Belgium that you live in Waterloo, you are immediately a rich to very rich person. Which is nonsense, all social classes are represented.

Every year Waterloo celebrates the reconstitution of the Waterloo battle. Which is always a big event and even more when it's a round birthday like 25, 50 etc. All countries who participated in the battle are represented by people who "play" soldiers. The town is crowded of Germans, English, Scotts, Frenchs and Dutchs. And then they fight at the same places their ancestors did.

I talked to an Englishman who told me that he is busy almost every weekend, because he follows all the Wellington battles.

There are a lot of "Waterloo's" all over the world. Especially in the USA. Around 53. Probably named by homesick emigrants.

The church of Waterloo 1900 and something

old City Hall

City hall today

The old Wellington museum was Wellington's headquarter.

old picture of the Lion's place

Preparing for the battle

Cude little couple

It starts, the uniforms are so colorfull, I don't know who is who.

Is that Napoleon ? If yes, then he is much taller than the original !

The english

You must be in good healt to climb up 256 steps, leading to the Lion on the top of the hill !

Without any doubt, these are the scotts !

A drummer


And now a good fresh beer

Two german girls asking for an ice cream

It's finished, now they go home or celebrate in Waterloo's city center


rahulv said...
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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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