Erected between 1824 and 1826, the Lion’s Mound is the most widely recognised landmark of the Waterloo battlefield. Let’s explore its history and location set within the Belgian municipality of Braine-l’Alleud.
At the request of the Dutch King, William I (1772-1843), the Mound was built on the alleged spot where his son, the young Prince of Orange,
was wounded on 18 June 1815. Hit on the shoulder and taken to Mont-Saint-Jean farm, the heir to the throne was commanding the Dutch-Belgian troops under the Duke of Wellington’s orders. Nine years after the battle, the Kingdom wanted to commemorate this episode during Napoleon’s last battle (Belgium was under Dutch rule until its independence in 1830). In early 1820, the royal architect, Charles Vander Straeten, was chosen
for his burial mound idea, while others had proposed a pyramid or obelisk. It was decided to put a lion, the Kingdom’s hallmark motif, on top. This Leo Belgicus, (Belgian lion) has been fashioned from nine pieces of iron cast in Seraing. Its weight and size are altogether impressive: 28 tons, 4 m 50 long and 4 m 45 high from its head to its feet.
41 m tall and 169 m in diameter, the mound on which the lion stands can be seen from several miles around. In the centre, a brick column supports the lion’s weight. Facing France, the lion has one of its paws placed on a globe, announcing Europe’s restored peace. On 28 October 1826, it was hoisted up and placed on its pedestal. The 227 steps up to it were not added until 1863-1864 (there is one missing today, following the mound’s subsidence in the late 20th century). Climb to the top and you are treated to a panoramic view over the different sections of the battlefield, from La Haie-Sainte to Sonian Forest. Prominent figures from all walks of life have climbed this now iconic monument in Belgium, the Emperor of Japan and Buffalo Bill among them…
The Lion’s Hill is part of the tour of the 1815 Waterloo Memorial, which also includes the museum of the famous battle, the Hougoumont Farm and the 1912 Panorama.
Travelling to the Waterloo Memorial 1815
By car : R0 exit 25 and/or Chaussée de Nivelles. Free parking.
GPS : 50°40’51.5″N 4°24’09.0″E 50.680983, 4.402497
By bus : from Waterloo or Braine-l’Alleud railway station: line W / from Brussels city centre: line 365 followed by line W.
By train : Brussels-Charleroi line to Braine-l’Alleud station.