Royal Destinations - Fort Napoleon in Ostend, Belgium

In 1792 and 1793, France had occupied the Austrian Netherlands
(nowadays Belgium), in the Flanders Campaign of the French
Revolutionary Wars.

When the Southern Netherlands were incorporated by the French
Republic, la Grande Armée realized that they need a fort near the
seacoast in Ostend.

Fort Napoleon, Ostend, Belgium, own picture taken in 2012


Napoleon

On February 13th. 1798, Napoleon made his first visit to Ostend.
He thought England would invade the Southern Netherlands and
history proved that Napoleon Bonaparte was right.
















Napoleon Bonaparte
Source picture: Wikipedia


As soon as the English heard from this visit, they decided to
act. On May 19th. 1798, a fleet of 37 ships, led by captain
Home Riggs Popham appeared at the coast of Ostend.

The city was heavily bombarded.  English special forces,
led by Major General Eyre Coote landed in the dunes of Bredene.

Captain Arnoud Muscar, his Grenadiers, together with troops
from Nieuwpoort and Bruges, defeated the English.

In 1804, Napoleon visited Ostend for the third time. Instead Ostend,
he was more interested in defending Antwerp.
However on May 20th. 1810, Napoleon ordered to build 3 forts:
1- eastern Ostend called the fort Impérial
2- western Ostend called the fort Royal
3- southern Ostend (which was never built).

Fort Napoleon was used during the French period, but afterwards
it had different functions.

The Convention of London (June 26th. 1814), ruled that Ostend
was a part of the Wellingtonbarrière. Troops from England, Austria,
Russia and Prussia, stayed at Fort Napoleon.

Inside Fort Napoleon, Ostend, Belgium - own picture taken in 2012


Royal Visitors

The fort in Ostend regularly had some important visitors as the
Duke of Wellington (1818 and 1819) and Wilhelm I of Prussia
(1819 and 1829).

Fort Napoleon Walls - Ostend, Belgium - taken in 2012


Belgian independence

From 1830 the Belgian army used the fort, however in 1847, the
Wellingtonbarrière ceased to exist. The Belgian government
decided to build a complex of forts around Antwerp, Liège and
Namur.

Inside Fort Napoleon 


World War I

During the First World War, Fort Napoleon was used again by
the Germans for their coastal protection.

On July 25th. 1916, the fort had an important visitor:
Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

On May 28th. 1917, Paul von Hindenburg visited
Fort Napoleon.

Inside Fort Napoleon


World War II

In the second World War the German army used this fort
again. In 1944, Fort Napoleon was plundered by the
people of Ostend.

Inside Fort Napoleon


Protected Monument

On July 6th. 1976, Fort Napoleon and the dunes around
became a protected monument.

In 1995, Fort Napoleon came into the care of
Erfgoed Vlaanderen VZW (the Flemish Heritage Association).

On April 7th. 2000, Fort Napoleon was opened for the
public. Nowadays it is a museum.

This Fort Napoleon really is worth to visit, not only due to its history but
also due to the amazing view on top of Fort Napoleon. Besides that, it
wouldn't be Belgium if there wasn't a great place to eat  :-)  


View at Ostend, picture taken on top of Fort Napoleon

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