Oostende Voor Anker ©Pit De Jonge
Ostend, the largest city on the Flemish Coast, started as a small village built on an island called Testerep.


Around 1265, the village gained city status when the inhabitants were allowed to build a hall in which to hold their market.  The major source of income for the inhabitants was, not surprisingly, fishing. In 1395, to secure their settlement, the inhabitants decided to build a new Ostend behind large dikes, further away from the ever-threatening sea.

In 1722, the Dutch closed off the entrance to the harbour of Antwerp and Ostend rose to prominence. In 1838, a railway connection with Brussels was constructed and Ostend became a transit point to England a few years later when the first ferry sailed to Dover. Ostend grew in stature during the reigns of the Belgian Kings Leopold I and Leopold II, who both liked to spend their vacations in the city. Important monuments and villas were built for the Royal Family and the rest of aristocratic Belgium soon followed, leading to Ostend being called "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts".

Back to top