The museum at the battlefield has regularly scheduled re-enactments of what an infantry soldier shooting his musket and charging with fixed bayonet is all about. At first I thought it was kind of hokey, then about 10 guys, new volunteers to this re-enactment charade went through their paces, managed by an experienced leader. Even with only 10 guys, of various degrees of proficiency and physical being when they march a la pelaton towards you with fixed bayonet I can see how this would be intimidating. Consider that in the real world, there were a bunch of well trained, physically in shape soldiers, and there were not 10, but about a 100,000 coming down to make trouble in your house.
Another interesting not on the reenactment, is that the recruits are using period guns, with a flintlock to light the gunpowder. During the reenactment several of the guns did not fire until the recruit properly lined the dry gunpower up where the flint hit the serrated steel, when then went into the charge to fire the bullet. Sometimes it took a couple of tries. And this was on a warm, sunny day. Imagine trying to get your musket fired on a damp day.
I was told that every couple of years there was a full blown reenactmentment with thousands of soldiers on the day of.
In the town of Waterloo, approximately five kilometers North of the battlefield is an information museum housed in the inn that General Wellington made his head quarters during the battle of Waterloo. You can buy a ticket to the museum, the Napoleon HQ, plus the exhibits at the battle ground including the Butte, the museum/movie, the panorama and the wax museum at the tourist office in Waterloo across from the Wellington Museum.
Once you have climbed the 226 relatively steep steps of the butte, you get a commanding view of the battlefield. There is a fee to enter the facility, which includes not only the right to climb the steps, but also a movie, the wax museum and panorama building.
Close to the Lion’s Mound you will see the Rotunda. You will see the panorama of the battle there. It is an immense color and sound fresco, which transports visitors back in time to the heart of the Battlefield. The painting depicts the successive charges of the French Cavalry on the afternoon of 18th June.
It's smaller than the Panorama of Borodino in Moscow or the Panorama of the Sebastopol battle in Sebastopol. But it's also worth a visit if you find ypurself in Waterloo.
A visit to the Panorama usually takes around 20-30 min.
You can watch my min sec Video Waterloo out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
The Lion's Mound (or "Lion's Hillock", "Butte du Lion" in French, "Leeuw van Waterloo" in Dutch) is a large conical artificial hill raised on the battlefield of Waterloo to commemorate the location where William II of the Netherlands (the Prince of Orange) was knocked from his horse by a musket ball to the shoulder during the battle.
It was ordered constructed in 1820 by his father, King William I of The Netherlands, and completed in 1826.
The mound is 43 m (141 ft) in height and has a circumference of 520 m (1706 ft), which dimensions would yield a volume in excess of 390,000 m3 (514,000 yd3), despite the usual claim of 300,000 m3.
It has 226 steps from the top and offers a panoramic view over the entire battlefield, where 200,000 soldiers from seven different countries fought on 18 June 1815.
The duration of the visit is around 30 min.: 10 min. to ascend, 10 min. to admire the view and regain your breath and 10 min. to descend.
April to Oct. 9.30 am – 6.30 pm
Nov. to March: 10 am – 5 pm
The Napoléon statue erected close to the Bivouac de l'Empereur hostel.
It was in the old farm called Caillou where Napoleon and his staff spent the night of 17th June 1815. Five rooms display weapons, field equipment, decorations, medals, as well as marvellous dioramas retracing the history of the Imperial armies. In the orchard alongside the Museum, a monument commemorates the last night watch of 'Les Grognards'.
April to October 10 am – 6.30 pm
November to March: 1 pm – 5 pm*
A visit to the Museum takes 20-30 minutes.
It was 18 June 1815, when Wellington faced Napoleon for the last battle. Well-known, that Duke of Wellington had reached a big victory against Napoleon. More than 300,000 soldiers clashed here on that June day and within a few hours nearly ten-thousand men had died, other thirty-thousand wounded.
The defeat was the end of Napoleon's Hundred Days of return from the island of Elba's exile. Napoleon abdicated a week later and he spent the rest of his days exiled on Saint Helena.
Napoleon really did not want war. He was old and fat and would have been satisfied, to rule only France (okay, and maybe Belgium), bringing reforms and enjoying life with his young wife. The death is trifle, he wrote in one of his letters, but to live defeating is so much, than to die every day.
The lion hill is a large conical artificial hill raised on the battlefield to the memory of the great victory of the Allied army under Wellington and von Blücher. It was believed to have been the approximate spot, where the Prince of Orange, son of the Dutch king wounded by a gunshot on his shoulder.
The top of the hill rose more than 40 meters above the battlefield, 226 stairs lead to the top. A lion was chosen because it symbolizes bravery and courage. The statue itself is constructed from cast iron, transported to the site in pieces, then assembled on site, it is 4,45 m high, 4,50 m long, and weighs 28 tons. On the base the inscription "XVIII JUNI MDCCCXV," is the Latin version of the battle date, 18 June 1815. Several telescopes are mounted here, which allow to see far off into the distance.
According to a legend the statue was cast from the bronze of the guns the French left behind on the battlefield. It is only a legend !
On 18 June each year, interesting historical demonstrations can be seen. In every summer-weekend , military shows with cavalry, cannon fire and infantry are held in original costumes.
In the Visitors’ Centre the painting of the battle, in circular form, is 110 meters long and 12 meters high.
You can find also restaurants and souvenier shops here. The Visitors’ Centre is open all year round.
Entrance fee: 12,- € all incl.
We went up to 300 meters - i noticed that the greens of my neighbour are greener ??!!
No - lol - but what a fantastic view on Waterloo area !
Pitty we couldn't go to the famous Waterloo monument (223 steps to the lion)- but the Abbey was oké - to see from the air and i guess only few people know that there is an abbey anyway
According to the guidebooks, there is a reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo every 5 years which prompted my husband to exclaim that he'd really like to see that. June 2005 was the last one so it appears that June 2010 will be the next one, I guess by then I'll probably be ready for some more Belgian waffles ;-)
Here's a link to an article from the BBC about the last one held in 2005.
If you're planning on visiting Waterloo, you'll want to stop by the Visitor's Center first as tickets to the other attractions are sold here. You can get a combination ticket that gives you access to all the major sights at Waterloo, I think it was 12E, or you can buy tickets to everything separately.
The major sights are located right near the visitor's center and include the Wellington Museum, the film at the visitor's center, the Panorama de la Bataille, the Lion's Mound (Butte de Lion), the Musee de Cires (wax museum). We only visited the Lion's Mound, if we had more time we probably would have also visited the Wellington Museum.
If you want to climb to the top of the Lion's Mound (Butte de Lion) for a view over the Waterloo battlefields, stop by the visitor's center, part with 2.50E and be prepared to climb up 226 stairs to get to the top. There's a small plaque at the top of the mound diagraming where Napoleon and Wellington's armies were and, of course, a rather large lion statue.
The mound was not there on June 18, 1815 during the Battle of Waterloo, it was constructed between 1824 and 1826 by Dutch women carting baskets of soil, the Dutch ruled Belgium at the time of Waterloo. It was built on the spot where William (Guillame) of Orange, later King William II of Netherlands, commander in chief of the first corp of Wellington's army, was wounded. It is dedicated to the soldiers that died that day.
On the road between the Visitor’s Center and the Ferme du Caillou you will see various monuments build in the memory of each nation that fought in the battle of 1815. Some have been build to commemorate a person in particular, such as the Monument Gordon, erected in the memory of Alexandre Gordon, Wellington’s aide-de-camp.
135 of those monuments are scattered in the Waterloo countryside.
The farmhouse where Napoleon and its staff spend the night of june 17th and 18th has now been turned into a museum. Four rooms in which you can follow the emperor's last moments before the battle and see artifacts such as his camp-bed.
When you have visited the Wellington Museum, take a few minutes to enter Saint Joseph Church, just across the street.
In the entrance, you'll notice various commemorative boards and sculptures dedicated to the British soldiers who fell during the Battle of 1815.
I found the choir quite nice and peaceful, full of simplicity.
The museum is set in a XVIIIth century inn, that was chosen by the English General Staff to be the Headquarters of the Duke of Wellington. This is where he slept on June 17th and 18th and where he wrote his victory announcement.
An interesting visit if you are keen on history, plenty of detailed informations are given to you step by step all along the 14 rooms of the museum, in the main house first, and then in another building across the garden. In there you’ll get everything necessary to understand the battle : wax statues, pictures, objects that once belonged to Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington, maps of the different battles and armies…a really comprehensive museum.
But maybe too difficult to understand for children…
We visited this museum after the Lion Hill, but I suggest you start your visit of Waterloo with the Wellington Museum. Not only because it is the most interesting of them all, but also because it is the only place where you can buy a 12 euros package ticket including all the visits concerning the Battle of Waterloo (Wellington Museum, Last Headquarters of Napoleon, Wax Museum, Visitor’s Center, Panorama and Lion Hill). It seems that some tensions exist between both sites, and this is why they didn’t show us that “1815 Pass ” at the Visitor Center of the Lion Hill… Too bad…
Museum only : 5,00 euros, audio-guide in 7 languages included.