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".
One of Ostend's main, and maybe lesser known, trump cards is the gastronomy. What better place to sample the sea's delicacies than on the seaside. There are many restaurants, ranging from exclusive hot spots to cosy bistros, so there is something to suit everyone's taste and budget. The specialities are Dover Sole, shrimp croquettes and 'tomato filled with shrimps'. There is also plenty to keep you amused later on in the evening such as pubs, clubs and cinema complexes. Check out today's and the forecast for the weather in Ostend.
Shopping in Ostend
Boutique browsers will be spoilt in Ostend. At the top end of the market are Edouard Tailor and Edouard Couture, at Kapellestraat 6 and 8 respectively, and there are many more similar shops on this street. The Adolf Buylstraat is also known for its exclusive boutiques. You will discover many wonderful shops in the side streets of these two traffic free shopping streets. Boutiques on the parallel Christinastraat include Lopez at number 48, stocking prestige women's labels, and Bilitis at 59.
On the Wapenplein there is a shopping centre with over twenty shops. Just outside the city centre, in the Alfons Pieterslaan and the Petit Paris quarter, you will also find several stores. Most stores in the city centre are open in the afternoon on Sundays and holidays.
Thursday is the main market day in Ostend. Between 7 am and 1 pm youcan buy several fresh products on the Wapenplein, Groentemarkt and Mijnplein in the city centre. A wide range of textiles, perfumes, jewellery and plants are also for sale here. Saturday morning, there is also a market on the Wapenplein and Groentemarkt. On Sunday you can find a small flower market on the Wapenplein. On Monday, a very small market with a few stands is set up on the Wapenplein.