Originally known as a stylish seaside resort with its royal villas and casino, during WWII, Ostend became known for something else: The remarkable Atlantik Wall. This gripping complex is a mixture of bunkers, gun emplacements and brick tunnels created by occupying German forces during WWII. Most of the bunkers are furnished and “manned” with wax soldiers - it is one of Belgium’s best war sites.
On a more cultural note, The Ensor Museum is a tribute to Ostender and expressionist painter, James Ensor. It is filled with dolls, puppets and masks and feels like his macabre painting, “Christ’s Entry into Brussels”, which is now in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Most of his other work (and more) is at Mu.ZEE, Ostend’s modern art museum, housed in an impressive modernist building by 1940’s architect Gaston Eysselinck.
Look out at the wide sandy beach from a stunning promenade and watch the goings-on from one of the cozy glass-terraced tearooms. In the evening, you can download a walk-umentary of Marvin Gaye’s unusual time here – he’ll tell you all about it. Then head to the Langestraat district for a brown Belgian beer and crab claws, and enjoy how Ostend is once again a stylish seaside resort.
Oostende, Belgium Highlights
Oostende, Belgium At a glance