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Ostend ( , ) is a Belgianmarker city and municipality located in the Flemishmarker province of West Flandersmarker.It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerkemarker, Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast.


Origin to Middle Ages

In earlier times, Ostend was nothing more than a small village built on the east-end ( ) of an island (originally called Testerepmarker) between the North Sea and a beach lake.Although small, the village rose to the status of "city" around 1265 when the inhabitants were allowed to hold a market and to build a market hall.

The major source of income for the inhabitants was fishing. The North Seamarker coastline has always been rather unstable and in 1395 the inhabitants decided to build a new Ostend behind large dikes and further away from the always-threatening sea.

15th to 18th century

The strategic position on the North Sea coast had major advantages for Ostend as a harbour but also proved to be a source of trouble. The city was frequently taken, ravaged, ransacked and destroyed by conquering armies. The most important of these events was the three-year Siege of Ostendmarker between 1601 and 1604, with on both sides combined more than 80,000 dead or wounded.In their fight against the Spanish Empire during the Eighty Years' War, the Dutchmarker rebels, the Geuzen, had occupied the city.

After this era Ostend turned into a harbour of some importance. In 1722 the Dutch again closed off the entrance to the harbour of Antwerpmarker, the Westerscheldemarker.Therefore, Ostend rose in importance because the city provided an alternative exit to the sea. The Southern Netherlands (largely the territory of present Belgium) had become part of the Austrian Empiremarker.The Austrian Emperor Charles VIgranted the city the trade monopoly with Africa and the Far-East. The Oostendse Compagnie(the "Ostend trade company") was allowed to found colonies overseas. However, in 1727 the Oostendse Compagnie was forced to stop its activities because of Dutch and British pressure. The Netherlands and Britain would not allow competitors on the international trade level. Both nations regarded international trade as their privilege.

Modern era

In later times the harbour of Ostend continued to expand because the harbour dock, as well as the traffic connections with the hinterland, were improved. In 1838 a railway connection with Brusselsmarker was constructed.Ostend became a transit harbour to Englandmarker in 1846 when the first ferry sailed to Dovermarker.It no longer serves in that role today, except for freight, as an alternative channel crossing point to Calaismarker, France.Very important for the image of the city was the attention it started to receive from the Belgian kings Leopold Iand Leopold II. Both liked to spend their vacations in Ostend. Important monuments and villas were built to please the Royal Family. The rest of aristocratic Belgiummarker followed and soon Ostend became known as "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts".


  • Interesting locations are the Casino and Fort Napoleon.
  • Ostend is also famous for its sea-side esplanade, pier, and fine-sand beaches.
  • The James Ensor museum can be visited in the house where the artist lived from 1917 until 1949.
  • The Mercatormarker, an educational tall ship of the Belgian merchant fleet, has been converted into a maritime museum.
  • Hippodrome Wellingtonmarker, horse racing venue
  • St Petrus and St Paulus Church, Ostendmarker (Sint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerkmarker), built in Neo Gothic style.
  • In the Mu.Zee (a new museum after the fusion of the Provinciaal Museum voor de Moderne Kunst-Aan-Zee and the "Museum voor Schone Kunsten"), the museum of modern art from the 1830s to the present, you can view works of noted local painters such as James Ensor, Leon Spilliaert, Constant Permeke and the revolutionary post-war Belgian COBRA movement amongst others.
  • Beach(es): Ostend is visited by many 'day' tourists, especially during July and August. Tourists from the Belgian inland and foreigners mostly arrive by train (day trips) and head for the closest beach area from the station (kleinstrand). The locals and other residents in Belgium usually occupy the larger beach (grootstrand). Ostend is widely visited by British, Germans, French and Dutch. Buses from Brussels tend to pass through giving the opportunity to North American and Asian tourists to view Ostend.
  • Views from the pier promenade or beach of departing and arriving passenger ferry ships from Ramsgate (UK).
  • During summer evenings (or just any kind of weather) you can walk through the little streets around Het Vissersplein. At certain times there are local markets in the neighbourhood streets and in the Summer the Vissersplein has music festivals. The Vissersplein (Bonenstraat/Kadzandstraat) is a car free zone with many brasseries where you can sit outside and have a drink. Look towards the port side and find many little fish outlets, and beyond that, again, you can view close the ferries docking.
  • Train station
  • Film locations: more and more directors are filming in Ostend.
    The movies Place Vendôme with Catherine Deneuve; Daughters of Darkness with Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory; Armaguedon with Alain Delon; Camping Cosmos with Lolo Ferrari; and Ex-Drummer based on the novel by Herman Brusselmans were partially shot in Ostend.
  • The comic Le Bal du rat mort about a dreadful invasion of rats, is set in Ostend.



Jetairflyhas its headquarters in Ostend.


Image:flower clock.jpg|Flower ClockImage:Watertoren Maria Hendrika park.JPG|Municipal park.Image:Vissersvrouwen(01).jpg|In front of the railway station: The waiting fisherman's wives, bronze (1998) by August Michiels (1922-2003).Image:Peperbusse.jpg|The Peperbusse - local name for an old church tower from a burned down church.Image:Vissershuisje.JPG|Spanish Inn 1729 (Kapucijnenstraat).Image:Beachwalk.jpg|The esplanade with the Thermae Palace Hotel, the former royal residence and the casinoImage:20040909-003-oostende-mercator.jpg|Ostend and the museumship, the barquentine Mercator.Image:Vissers(01).jpg|Traditional fishers' dress - early 20th century.File:HPIM1924.JPG|Headquarters of Jetairfly

Notable citizens of Ostend

Sport clubs

See also

External links


St Petrus and St Paulus Church

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