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City of Ostend
Ostend municipality and district in the province West Flanders
Flag / Weapon
Image:Afbeelding OostendeVlag.svg
Region Flanders
Province West Flanders
District Oostende
Geographic position 51°13' N 02°54' E
Area 37.72 km²
Population (Source: NIS)
Population (01/01/2006) 68,931
Density 1,827/km²
Partial municipality with postal code
Postal code Partial municipality

Ostend (DutchOostende, French & GermanOstende) is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the villages of Mariakerke, Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest at the Belgian coast.

Image:Oostende panoramic view.jpg
Ostend beach and the promenade pier - panoramic view.


[edit] History

[edit] Origin to Middle Ages

In earlier times, Ostend was nothing more than a small village built on the east-end (Dutch: oost-einde) of an island (called Testerep) 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 Sea 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.

[edit] 15th to 18th century

The strategic position on the North Sea coast had major advantages for Ostend as a harbor but also proved to be a source of trouble. The city was frequently taken, destroyed and rampaged by conquering armies. The most important of these events was the three-year Siege of Ostend between 1601 and 1604, with on both sides combined more than 80,000 dead or wounded. After their independence from the Spanish Empire, the Dutch had persevered (Protestant Dutch freedomfighters).

After this era Ostend turned into a harbour of some importance. In 1722 the Dutch closed off the entrance to the harbour of Antwerp. Therefore, Ostend rose in importance because the city provided an alternative entrance to the sea. The Southern Netherlands (now Belgium) had become part of the Austrian Empire. The Austrian Emperor Charles VI granted the city the trade monopoly with Africa and the Far-East. The Oostendse Compagnie (= the Ostend trade society) 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.

The esplanade with the Thermae Palace, the former Royal Residence and the casino
Ostend and the museumship, the brigantine Mercator.
Traditional fisherman's dress - early 20th century.

[edit] Modern era

In later times the harbour of Ostend continued to expand because the harbor dock, as well as the traffic connections with the hinterland, were improved. In 1838 a railway connection with Brussels was constructed. Ostend became a transit harbour to England in 1846 when the first ferry sailed to Dover. It no longer serves in that role today, except for freight, as an alternative channel crossing point to Calais, France. Very important for the image of the city was the attention it started to receive from the Belgian kings Leopold I and 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 Belgium followed and soon Ostend became known as "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts".

[edit] Sights

  • 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 Mercator, an educational tall ship of the Belgian merchant fleet, has been converted into a maritime museum.

[edit] Famous citizens of Ostend

In front of the railway station: The waiting fisherman's wives, bronze (1998) by August Michiels (1922-2003).
The Peperbusse- local name for an old church tower from a burned down church.

[edit] Sport clubs

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 51°13′N 2°54′E Belgian coast tram route:

Knokke-Heist - Zeebrugge - Blankenberge - De Haan - Bredene - Ostend - Raversijde - Middelkerke - Westende - Lombardsijde - Nieuwpoort - Oostduinkerke - Koksijde - De Panne edit

Municipalities in the province of West Flanders, Flanders, Belgium
Bruges: Beernem | Blankenberge | Bruges/Brugge | Damme | Jabbeke | Knokke-Heist | Oostkamp | Torhout | Zedelgem | Zuienkerke
Diksmuide: Diksmuide | Houthulst | Koekelare | Kortemark | Lo-Reninge
Kortrijk: Anzegem | Avelgem | Deerlijk | Harelbeke | Kortrijk/Courtrai | Kuurne | Lendelede | Menen | Spiere-Helkijn | Waregem | Wevelgem | Zwevegem
Ostend: Bredene | De Haan | Gistel | Ichtegem | Middelkerke | Oostende/Ostend | Oudenburg
Roeselare: Hooglede | Ingelmunster | Izegem | Ledegem | Lichtervelde | Moorslede | Roeselare | Staden
Tielt: Ardooie | Dentergem | Meulebeke | Oostrozebeke | Pittem | Ruiselede | Tielt | Wielsbeke | Wingene
Veurne: Alveringem | De Panne | Koksijde | Nieuwpoort | Veurne
Ypres: Heuvelland | Ieper/Ypres | Langemark-Poelkapelle | Mesen | Poperinge | Vleteren | Wervik | Zonnebeke

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br:Oostende ca:Oostende cs:Ostende da:Ostende de:Ostende el:Οστένδη es:Ostende eo:Ostendo fr:Ostende it:Ostenda lb:Oostende nl:Oostende no:Oostende nds:Oostenn pl:Ostenda pt:Ostende ru:Остенде simple:Oostende sr:Остенде fi:Oostende sv:Oostende vls:Ostende


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