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“Interesting historical landmark and good restaurant”
Review of Fort Napoleon

Fort Napoleon
Ranked #10 of 52 things to do in Ostend
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Bredene, Belgium
Level Contributor
152 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Interesting historical landmark and good restaurant”
Reviewed September 8, 2013

It is worthwhile taking the tour as it explains the reason for being of this place. It is hard to imagine the level of paranoia that existed in those Napoleonic days, and the misery soldiers took for granted.
Great place for a snack, on the rooftop terrace weather permitting, or for a cozy dinner in the very modern dining area. Great menu and excellent kitchen and very professional service.

Visited June 2013
3 Thank Robert v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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236 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Scarborough, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Excellent must-see preservation”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

First of all, if you are expecting a 'museum' with lots of installations, artefacts and recreations this may not be for you (I suggest you visit the Atlantic Wall museum at the other side of Ostend instead). What Fort Napoleon is is a lovingly and sympathetically renovated bastion-fort from the Napoleonic period, with the emphasis on the careful preservation of the structure while adding some additional contemporary bits of architecture to help make this monument more accessible to the public.

You have the shell of the building and that's it. For those interested in history - particularly the history of fortifications - it is very interesting but it makes very little concession to those that like their history with a pinch of the theatrical (recreations, props and what-not). There is a very useful audio tour (English available), but the illustrated panels which appear occasionally are in Dutch (Flemish).

Do not think I am being negative. The whole point of Fort Napoleon is the preservation of the building and my wife and I enjoyed our visit immensely (there's a quite spectacular view of the coast from the roof). It's a wonderful example of fortifications of this period (as well as having relevance to the First World War and Second World War).

There are no period furnishings, uniformed mannequins or weaponry in situ. Just the building, but this in itself is a unmissable historical edifice.

As for the cafe. Saying it is *comparatively* expensive is fair comment BUT you must realise that this is not meant to be one of those nasty school-dinner type cafeterias that are so common in British historical attractions. This is a cafe in the French style and the food is what you might expect in a 3 Star restaurant in Britain. The clue is in the fact it has waiter service and in it's extensive and wonderful menu. If you want chips or a ham sandwich eat before you go!

I highly recommend visiting Fort Napoleon as it balances out your historical knowledge which is likely used to the idea of Britain being the nation that usually expects invasion!

Recommended for discerning adults and teens with intelligence and an interest in history.

Location: We walked, it was a bit of a hike on a hot day but there is a free ferry which takes you from the town-side of the harbour to the opposite bank. From there you will follow the signs to the fort itself. Another reason for not doing this with young kids!

Visited August 2013
3 Thank SteveBeat1961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Llandudno, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
86 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Good in parts”
Reviewed July 23, 2013

it was good that some of the space was used for a temporary exhibition of photos of pop icons and the audio trail was ok, but directions especially from the roof needed to be clearer and the cafe was very expensive

Visited July 2013
Thank Garethfromllandudno
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tournai, Hainaut, Belgium
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Following the steps of a French soldier...”
Reviewed July 1, 2013

To get to this part of the city from the center of Ostend you get on a FREE ferry from the fish market, which in 5 minutes takes you to your destination. Following the signs you get to the fort. It is a really valuable attraction worth visiting and devoting an hour or more. It looks like the building of The Pentagon :D Fantastically preserved, with a labyrinth of corridors and rooms. The fun is better when there are not so many tourists around, because you can imagine yourself that you returned to the past. Your guide is Francois,a soldier, who has been living in the fort for more than 200 years and he's still seeking for English soldier to defeat on his way, telling you anecdotes and teaching interesting facts about the fort at the same time :) (free audioguide). I can certainly recommend Fort Napoleon, as well as the beach situated near it; it is more beautiful, "wilder" than the one in the center of Ostend.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank Marthap5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Launceston, Australia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed May 12, 2013

I learnt lots visiting this site, I would recommend taking a barge across the river, not walking.
The café is over priced

Visited June 2012
3 Thank Elizabeth R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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