Belgium is one of the smallest yet densely populated countries in Europe. Our hometown, Ostend, is the largest city on the Flemish Coast with a population of just over 70,000 people. Ostend isn’t an up and coming or newly established seaside town, purpose-built for tourists; Ostend is a city with its own history. Its nickname Brussels by the sea is apt, capturing the big city feel of the capital in our modern apartment blocks and the grandeur of the bridges and buildings combined with a seaside feel where families have vacationed for centuries. Visit Leopold Hotel Ostend for a comfortable, modern base to stay while exploring the history of the city.

History of Ostend

In the Middle Ages, Ostend was a small fishing village built on the east coast of an island originally called Testerep. Although small, the population grew quickly, and the village became a town in 1265 when the inhabitants were allowed to build a hall to hold their markets. The main industry of Ostend at the time was fishing and trading, unsurprising for a seaside town. In 1395 the population decided to move, building a new Ostend behind large dams and dikes, keeping their land safe from the menacing tides.

The newly named Oostende-ter-Streepe was fortified in 1583 becoming the last Dutch stronghold in Belgium. The residents held strong against a three-year long siege by the Spanish, folding in 1604.

In 1722, the Dutch closed off the entrance to the harbour of Antwerp and Ostend rose to prominence. There was a period of prosperity around 1722 when emperor Charles VI of Austria founded the Ostend Company, which lasted just under 10 years. A railway connection with Brussels was constructed in 1838 and Ostend became a major transit point to England a few years later when the first ferry departed for Dover.

Ostend grew in popularity and became highly respected during the reigns of both Leopold I & II who both liked to vacation in the city both alone and with their families. Many notable monuments and residences were built for the royal families, and many nobles and aristocrats followed suit, earning Ostend the nickname "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts".

Belgium’s Modern History

Belgium won its independence in 1830 and Ostend continued to be recognised as a popular seaside resort. It served as a major German submarine base in World War 1 until the sinking of a British ship cause it to be sealed in 1918. During World War II, the city served as a German coastal fortress and was severely damaged as a result. The city was liberated by Canadian forces in 1944. Most of Ostend’s major public buildings were rebuilt and the city survived severe floods in 1953 caused by a broken dike between Ostend and Knokke.

Ostend is now known as the ‘gateway to Europe’, with seaports connecting companies, goods and passengers to mainland Europe in a matter of hours. The Ostend-Bruges International Airport have plans to become a main air gateway between China and Europe. Its role as an English Channel crossing point, the network of beautiful beaches and the popular casino complex have made what was once a quaint fishing village into a major tourist destination.

Leopold Hotel Ostend

Follow in the footsteps of our namesake (King Leopold) and spend your vacation in the gorgeous seaside town of Ostend. Discover first-hand the history of the city by visiting the memorials, monuments and buildings that give us our unique style. Leopold Hotel Ostend is in the city centre of Ostend close to the beach and the Casino Kursaal. Our stylish comfortable rooms are ideal for corporate, family, couple and solo travellers and there is much to explore on our doorstep. Dating from 1928, the timeless elegance of this unique historic building has been admired by generations of guests and our location less than 150m from the beach makes us the perfect vacation accommodation in Ostend.

Book your stay using our official website for exclusive access to our best available rates and special offers. Be sure to let our friendly staff know if you find any hidden historic gems in the city.

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