The Lion’s Mound at The Battlefield of Waterloo

Sep 7, 2015 0 comments

The historic Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, took place near the town of Waterloo, in present day Belgium, in the municipalities of Braine-l'Alleud and Lasne, about 15 km south of Brussels, and about 2 km from the town itself. The decisive battle marked the final defeat of French military leader and emperor Napoleon, who conquered much of continental Europe in the early 19th century. It was one of the bloodiest battle of the pre-twentieth-century that saw nearly 200,000 men from seven nations take part in the action. From the firing of the first gun to Napoleon's surrender nine hours later, 65,000 men were either dead or wounded.

Not much of the battlefield remains today. It’s mostly farmland now with a few memorials and monuments scattered throughout the area. The largest of these is located right at the heart of the battlefield, and is called the Lion's Mound.


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The Lion's Mound is a 43-meters-tall conical hill topped by a huge cast iron lion measuring around 4.5 m in both length and height. The hill was constructed on the orders of King William I of the Netherlands, and was built at the spot where his son, and the future King of the Netherlands, was injured when a musket bullet to his shoulder knocked him off his horse during the battle.

Construction of the colossal monument began in 1822 and was not finished until 1825. It required nearly 400,000 cubic meters of earth that was collected from many parts of the battlefield itself, including the fields between La Haye Sainte farm and the Duke of Wellington's sunken lane that ran through the center of the battlefield. When the Duke of Wellington visited the battlefield in 1827, he was surprised by the complete transformation and is said to have exclaimed, "They have altered my field of battle!"

A long line of steps take visitors today to the top of the mound from where they can have a commanding view of the former battlefield. The statue of the lion at the summit was inspired by the 16th-century Medici lions statue in Florence. The lion has its right front paw upon a sphere, signifying global victory.

Adjacent to the Lion’s Mound is a circular building that houses a large panoramic painting of the Battle of Waterloo drawn by French artist Louis Dumoulin. The 35-meters diameter rotunda was built much later, in 1911, while the painting was completed the following year.


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The view from the Lion’s Mound. Photo credit


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The exterior of ‘Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo’ with the Lion Mound behind. Photo credit


A section of the Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo. Photo credit


A section of the Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo. Photo credit


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Sources: Wikipedia / European Traveller via Twisted Sifter


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