Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an icon of 19th-century Britain, perhaps best known for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
Over the course of his illustrious life, the Duke became a military hero, a statesman and a two-time Prime Minister of Britain.
The relics and repercussions of the Duke’s life can be witnessed the world over, from his home at Apsley House to the battlefield of his famed victory at Waterloo.
Here are 7 of the most significant Duke of Wellington sites to visit in Europe.
1. Waterloo Battlefield
It was at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 that the forces of the Duke of Wellington, together with Prussian allies, claimed a historic victory over Napoleon Bonaparte and his army. In fact, this was to be the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of over two decades of conflict for France. For Napoleon, it meant the end of his rule and his career.
Today, Waterloo Battlefield is a popular tourist site and includes numerous monuments, the most famous of which is the Lion Mound.
2. Apsley House
Apsley House was the home of the Duke of Wellington. In fact, Wellington lived there following his most famous victory, that over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Now managed by the English Heritage, Apsley House has a range of worthwhile things to see, such as its remarkable regency interiors and exhibits relating to the Duke of Wellington. The site also boasts the Duke’s impressive art collection, which includes pieces by several famous artists such as Canova and Velazquez.
3. St Paul’s Cathedral
Following his death at Walmer Castle in Deal on 14 September 1852, the Duke of Wellington was given a state funeral and interred in the crypt of the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, next to Lord Nelson.
The 17th-century structure is now one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, offering guided tours around the famed site. The cathedral is also still a working church with hourly prayer and daily services.
4. Talavera Battlefield Monument
The Talavera Battlefield Monument commemorates the Battle of Talavera, which took place on 27 and 28 July 1809. It was the future Duke of Wellington’s first major victory of the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument is a large memorial on the battlefield itself, although much of the battlefield is now separated by a road. It is actually a new monument, the original now being located on private land.
5. Salamanca Battlefield
The Battle of Salamanca was a major clash in the Peninsular Wars, part of the Napoleonic Wars. On 22 July 1812, the Duke of Wellington led the combined British, Spanish and Portuguese army to victory over the French forces led by Marshal Auguste Marmont.
There is a small monument on the Salamanca Battlefield commemorating this historic event.
6. Bussaco Battlefield
Bussaco Battlefield in Portugal was the site of a British-Portuguese victory against the French during the Peninsular War. The Battle of Bussaco took place on 27 September 1810 and the allies were led by the Duke of Wellington.
Visitors can see the headquarters of the French Marshal André Masséna and also visit the nearby military museum.
7. Badajoz Fortress
Badajoz Fortress or ‘Alcazaba de Badajoz’ is a 12th-century fortification in the city of Badajoz in Spain. During the Peninsular War, the British made 3 attempts to capture Badajoz Fortress from the French. The third attempt, known as the Battle of Badajoz, saw an Anglo-Portuguese force, led by Arthur Wellesley the future Duke of Wellington, eventually breach the thick curtain walls of Badajoz Fortress.
Today, visitors can admire the fortress and enjoy the Provincial Archaeology Museum of Badajoz which is housed inside.