Exploring Waterloo Battlefield in Belgium

On the afternoon we arrived in Brussels, after some difficulties checking into our hotel, we immediately headed out to take advantage of the remaining daylight. Our first destination – Waterloo Battlefield. The battlefield is only a short, 20-minute drive from the city of Brussels. Both the train and a bus will get you out there as well, but arriving via car is the quickest and easiest route if you can swing it. We had Jo as our chauffeur, so she made sure to give us the grand tour along the way, too.

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Waterloo Battlefield is pretty easy to spot if you’re driving in – just look for the giant hill, also known as the Lion’s Mound. The hill is surrounded in all directions by gorgeous farmland, preserving the site where one of Europe’s most famous battles was fought.

A little history – Waterloo Battlefield is the site of Napoleon’s final defeat by the Seventh Coalition, a collection of armies made up of pretty much every other country in Europe at the time besides France, and led by the Duke of Wellington from England and Gebhard von Blücher of Prussia. On the 18th of June 1815 at noon, the Seventh Coalition rose up against Napoleon and the French army, and nine hours later the French retreated. The French Empire was crushed, Napoleon went into exile, and Europe lived in peace for the next fifty years until the Crimean War.

So what can you see here now? It depends on how deeply invested you want to get into its history. There are guided tours available that will take you through the surrounding countryside where you can visit important sites and monuments from the battle, or you can go the cheaper route and stay on-site where you can climb the hill, visit the museum and Napoleon’s headquarters, see the panorama, and view a couple movies depicting the battle. Since we arrived less than an hour before closing time, we chose the cheapest package available – just the panorama and the hill for €7 per person.

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Given that they were about to shut the place down, the receptionist recommended we see the panorama first. I’m not going to lie to you – it looked a little tired, and not just because the 110 meter round canvas was painted over 100 years ago in 1912. The whole exhibit was just old-looking in general. We didn’t spend much time in here before moving on to what brought us out here in the first place – the Lion’s Mound.

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

226. That’s how many steps you’ll have to climb if you want to reach the summit of the Lion’s Mound. When you arrive at the top, thighs burning and breathless, you’ll have a clear view in all directions of the fields where 350,000 men once fought, 50,000 of which were wounded or lost their lives.

The Lion’s Mound was built by the Dutch using earth from the battlefield to commemorate the site where the Prince of Orange, from the Netherlands, was injured in battle. Many other monuments to fallen soldiers can be found in the surrounding area, but the Lion’s Mound is certainly the largest and most well-known.

It was a beautiful day, and I’m glad we soaked up that sunshine while we could. It was the last time we saw the sun until we got back to London, which is saying something. And those views of the fields and farmland – they were gorgeous! It’s hard to picture this peaceful setting ever being the site of such a ferocious battle. Some of the farmhouses that can be seen in the distance were actually around at the time of the Battle of Waterloo – that’s one front row seat I’d have declined.

So is Waterloo Battlefield worth the journey out from Brussels? If you’re like me and you enjoy making historical connections with the places you visit and you’ve got someone willing to give you a lift, then definitely yes! Currently, much of the museum next to the hill is under construction so there are certain things that may be closed when you pay a visit. Considering the state of what little we saw of the inside, the construction is most definitely a good thing. When it’s complete, I could see this monument and museum totally being worth the journey even if you have to come by train or bus, but until then, climbing the Lion’s Mound is the only real highlight of the experience (unless you pay for a tour), so keep that in mind if you’re considering a visit.

And now I’ll leave you with a few black and white photos from the battlefield. I’ve been playing around with editing in Lightroom and I pretty much suck at it, but I suppose I can only go up from here!

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Waterloo Battlefield: Website
Address: Route du Lion 252-254, B-1420 Braine-l’Alleud

Did you enjoy this article or find it helpful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Exploring Waterloo Battlefield Near Brussels, Belgium

Share this post:

  • Jo
    September 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    I love that picture of the stairs!

  • rorybore
    September 19, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    that is a lot of stairs!! but like you say, totally worth it to get the historical connections to a location. I love that about sites like this. I’m surprised the earth is not red though with such a violent and tragic history. But that view is definitely breath taking.

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    September 18, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    Great shots! You completely do NOT suck at it!! It does take time to get use to all the features in photo editing!

  • Miwa
    September 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    What a sad history for a place with such a gorgeous view. If I had the chance, I’d definitely go there, just to see that landscape. And let me just say, your editing skills are great! (I’m just getting started with Lightroom too, and I’m loving it. Although I really have so much to learn still–photography-wise and editing-wise. But the learning process is quite interesting, too, isn’t it? Or am I just a big nerd? haha)

    • Sarah Shumate
      September 19, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      I wish the editing process came more naturally to me. I just do not understand how to use all the controls. How have you taught yourself to use Lightroom? I’m thinking of buying a book. I think I’ll learn much quicker if I do that.

      • Miwa
        September 20, 2014 at 1:36 AM

        I’ve just been playing around with the settings, trying to learn through trial and error. That’s basically how I learn everything–taking pictures, designing my old blog, etc. So I probably have all the wrong info in my head and I bet I’m doing so many things wrong! But it’s okay ;) Also, of course, I’ve been looking at random tutorials online and stuff. I went to the bookstore the other day and found some interesting books too, but they were all in Japanese so I got tired before even considering to buy any! But maybe I’ll try one in English. I’d love to know if you find any good ones!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    September 18, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    I think it’s interesting to hear about some other sides of Belgium! :) I think visits to Battlefields really, really depend on just how visits there are organized – we went to Culloden Battlefield in the north of Scotland once and the exhibition and the audio tour were so good, that it was one of the most interesting things we did on that trip. Would have been the complete opposite, though, without the guide, because… well, battlefields are fields, right? ;)

    • Sarah Shumate
      September 19, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      You are exactly right. I would have enjoyed this a lot more if we’d had someone knowledgeable take us around and tell us stories. That always helps set the scene so much better, because yeah – to me, they just looked like pretty fields. I needed a little more context.

  • Katrin
    September 18, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Beautiful pictures, Sarah! I have not been there yet but I am interested in all things history so I would definitely give it a go.

  • Emmymom
    September 17, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    That stair shot is cool! I have heard of the battle of Waterloo but honestly forgot what it was; one of the things I love about coming to your blog, I always feel like I leave it a little smarter. Have I told you about Matt’s Killer Lightroom tips before? Google it– he has tons of free presets and tons of awesome tutorials.

  • T. Lennie
    September 17, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Your editing doesn’t suck at all! And, it’s only up from here!

    • Sarah Shumate
      September 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      That’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t get worse. :) I need to buy a book or something about how to use Lightroom – I am SO not good at understanding all of those sliders and graphs. Yikes.

      • T. Lennie
        September 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        I get that! I have Photoshop (which I do NOT know how to use). Sometimes just opening it up stresses me out lol. Is there a reason you chose Lightroom? I have been thinking about getting it, just because I feel like it might be a little easier on me than Photoshop lol

        • Sarah Shumate
          September 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

          Photoshop was never an option for me because of the price, and because I didn’t think I’d actually need to use all of it’s options anyway. I do have an outdated version of Photoshop Elements that I use from time to time, but I never really caught the hang of that one either. I chose Lightroom in hopes it would be more dummy-proof, but I STILL struggle with understanding it. I just need someone to sit down with me and show me all the tricks, I think. :)

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    September 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    I agree with Robert, your editing doesn’t suck! Gorg x

  • Robert
    September 17, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I’m sorry to hear your visit was a little disappointing! But I suppose you go because you know of the history that was created there, which is probably the most significant part. And besides that you got some awesome photographs! I love the B&W ones – your editing definitely doesn’t suck :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      September 19, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      It wasn’t a bad experience – I think I was just expecting more. I probably would have enjoyed having a guided walk with someone who could tell stories about the battle here. I think it might have made more of an impact if I’d done that.