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Napoleon and Wellington set to lock horns again at Battle of Waterloo re-enactment this weekend
After a two year absence, the traditional reconstruction of the Battle of Waterloo returns on 18 and 19 June to the site of the original history-changing skirmish.
The two-day battle in 1815 brought to an end 23 years of conflict in Europe. Belgium was then part of the French Empire and Waterloo was a strategic location for an army of European allies determined to prevent the French commander Napoleon reaching the capital.
Napoleon met his Waterloo and the rolling hills of this rural community around Mont-Saint-Jean have since become a memorial site to this most bloodiest of battles and an international tourist destination.
For its 207th anniversary, some 1,500 passionate re-enactors will reconstruct the conflict. The action takes place on the sprawling site, which houses the Memorial of the Battle of Waterloo 1815 and Napoleon’s final HQ, La Belle Alliance.
Other attractions include the Wellington Museum, where the duke slept before and after the battle and Hougoumont farm. The latter was the British strongpoint and the scene of fierce fighting. Like many of the buildings and monuments in and around Waterloo, it was completely renovated for the bicentenary of the battle in 2015.
The memorial museum at the foot of the Lion’s Mound is located at the heart of the battlefield. Its scenography includes a giant model of the battle scene with more than 10,000 characters at a scale of 1/72. Visitors can also view the 1912 giant panorama canvas, while digital and interactive displays feature a large gallery of more than 70 models in uniform and a film broadcast in 3D audio surround.
The famous Butte du Lion was erected from 1824 to 1826 at the presumed location of the Prince of Orange suffering a shoulder injury. Climb its 226 steps for an exceptional view of the battlefield.
During the anniversary weekend, the doors to the French and Allied bivouacs (at Hougoumont farm) will be open and a recreated civilian village at the Lion’s Mound will be an opportunity to discover the forgotten trades once practised by camp followers. Soldiers in uniform will be enacting historical events several times a day.
A free shuttle for the public will be available during the opening hours of the bivouacs. It connects La Belle Alliance to Hougoumont farm and the Memorial of the Battle of Waterloo 1815.
The Battle of Waterloo: Reconstitution and Bivouacs
18 June, 10.00-midnight; 19 June, 9.30-17.00
Route du Lion 1815
Photos: (main image) © WBT Olivier Cappeliez-Commemoration The Battle of Waterloo; © Walloon Brabant; © Memorial Waterloo 1815 Allied bivouacs