The Hougoumont Farm encampment was scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the Battle of Waterloo of June 1815. Fought by the English, Dutch and Prussians against the French, under the leadership of the Duke of Wellington and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte respectively, it raged for four days and more than 12,000 soldiers died, with a further 35,000 wounded. Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo ended France’s military domination of Europe.
The Waterloo battle site is south of Brussels in Wallonia and today visits encompass the Wellington Museum in the duke’s former HQ, and Napoleon’s command central at an inn called La Belle Alliance, now also a museum. There are several monuments to the war dead scattered around the battlefield, including Lion Hill, built in honor of King William II of the Netherlands, who died in the fighting; the new high-tech Waterloo Visitor Center sits at the foot of this manmade mound.
Hougoumont Farm stood 500 yards (460 m) away from Wellington’s frontline and played a pivotal role at Waterloo; the struggle ended in victory for the Scottish Coldstream Guards, although many troops died as French battalions were prevented from storming the farm. Reopened for the bicentenary of the battle in 2015 after extensive restoration works, the farm buildings are once more pristine and a new memorial stands outside the barns, representing two of Wellington’s soldiers battling to close the gates and preventing the French from overrunning the property.
Hougoumont, Waterloo. Open daily 9.30am–6.30pm. Admission adults €6; seniors, students & younger than 18 €4.50. The battle site is 9.25 miles (15 km) south of Brussels; trains from Brussels Midi to Waterloo run every hour and the journey takes under 20 minutes.