Visiting the Battlefield of Waterloo

By Al P. Manlangit

 

As I stood at the top of the hill and surveyed the beautiful, undulating, verdant landscape, it was hard to visualize that 201 years ago, one of the greatest battles in the annals of history was fought right there. On June 18, 1815 Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Army was routed by the combined Anglo-Prussian forceled  by the Duke of Wellington which led to the former’s downfall and changed the course of European history.

It was a 4-hour drive from Paris to this place located some 15 kms. south of Brussels. We arrived late in the afternoon before the underground museum closed and bought tickets to the impressive round theater which had a 360-degree panoramic mural standing 12 meters tall. It depicted the battle complete with the sound of thundering horses on a cavalry charge, cannons firing alongside withering rifle shots and anguished cries of wounded and dying men. Standing in the middle of a raised platform, you felt as though you were in the midst of it all!

Visiting the Battlefield of Waterloo

What did Napoleon in was his fatal blunder to delay the battle to mid-day to let the ground dry for his cannons to roll (it had rained the previous day and night making the battlefield wet and soggy). This gave Wellington time to hold the line while waiting for his Prussian comrades to arrive with reinforcements late in the day. This turned the whole thing around in favor of the Allies and led to the rout of the French with Napoleon scurrying back to Paris with what remained of his motley crew. After four days, he abdicated and surrendered to the British almost a month later and was sent packing in exile to St Helena, a remote island off the coast of Africa, where he lived for 6 years. He died in May 1821 at the age of 51.

The name Waterloo is etched in memory as something which we all know so well: a downfall.

Visiting Battlefield of Waterloo
Panoramic view of the wide open fields where the battle took place taken from the top of the Lion’s Mound with the round theater in the foreground.
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Part of the mural painting depicting views of the fighting that took place.
You can buy souvenir items at the Museum shop including this crate of champagne
You can buy souvenir items at the Museum shop including this crate of champagne
Entrance to the panoramic theater with images of Napoleon on the left and Gen. Von Blucher who commanded the Prussian Army
Entrance to the panoramic theater with images of Napoleon on the left and Gen. Von Blucher who commanded the Prussian Army
We walked around this lonely road to see the quiet countryside and feel the ambiance of the place.
We walked around this lonely road to see the quiet countryside and feel the ambiance of the place.
The hard climb to the top of the Mound.
The hard climb to the top of the Mound.
Maps depicting the position of the opposing forces.
Maps depicting the position of the opposing forces.
Entrance to the battlefield site
Entrance to the battlefield site
Hall and restaurant where you can dine alfresco after a tiring day of walking around exploring the place if you’re really up to it
Hall and restaurant where you can dine alfresco after a tiring day of walking around exploring the place if you’re really up to it
This incline will lead you to the museum and souvenir shop underground built just a year ago and designed to be unobtrusive to the surroundings
This incline will lead you to the museum and souvenir shop underground built just a year ago and designed to be unobtrusive to the surroundings
model of La Haye Sainte a large farmhouse
A model of La Haye Sainte a large farmhouse where some of the fiercest fighting took place.
We left late in the day as dusk fell
We left late in the day as dusk fell
Huge concrete base of the lion sculpture at the top of the mound.
Huge concrete base of the lion sculpture at the top of the mound.
The parking lot was just a short walk from the entrance.
The parking lot was just a short walk from the entrance.

 

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Visiting Battlefield of Waterloo al perez manlangitAL MANLANGIT

Kuwait-based architect Al Manlangit is a global nomad who goes by the mantra – “Have cash, will travel.”  A seasoned photographer who has a gift for words, Al has been sharing his jaunts around the world with Illustrado readers for close to a decade now.  Read about Al’s travels in www.sojournalpix.com

 

 

 

 

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