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Ostend (Oostende) is an Atlantic Ocean port city, located in Belgium's West-Flanders province. The city covers a total area of approx 38 km2 (15 ml2) and has population around 70,000.
- Ostend comprises the boroughs of Raversijde, Stene, Zandvoorde and Mariakerke, and the city of Ostend proper – the biggest on the Belgian coast.
- In earlier times, the city of Ostend was just a small village established on the east-end of an island (called Testerep) between a beach lake and the North Sea. The tiny village rose to the "town" status around 1265 when its inhabitants were permitted to hold a market and build a market hall. Their major source of income was fishing. The coastline of the North Sea has always been unstable and in 1395 Ostend's inhabitants decided to create a new Ostend behind huge dikes and further away from the threatening sea.
- Oostende is famous for its sea-side esplanade, including fine-sand beaches, pier and Royal Galleries of Ostend. Ostend is visited by plenty of day-trippers heading to the beaches, especially during the summer months. Most tourists from inland Belgium and foreigners arrive by train and head for the closest beach area, Klein Strand, next to the pier. The locals and other Belgium residents usually occupy the bigger beach (het Groot Strand). Oostende used to be visited predominately by the British, French, Dutch and Germans, but is today mainly frequented by Dutch and Belgians.
- Close to the beach is a well-preserved section of fortified Atlantic Wall, open to the public as the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum in Raversijde. During summer evenings visitors can walk through the tiny streets around Het Vissersplein. At certain times there are local markets in neighbourhood streets. In the summer Vissersplein features music festivals. Vissersplein is a car free zone with lots of brasseries where patrons sit outside and have a drink. Towards port side there are little fish outlets, and beyond that ferries can be observed docking.
Ostend cruise terminal
Cruise ships in Ostende dock at the quay in outer-port. The berth is approx 0,5 km from open sea and located close downtown. Port's convenient location allows fast connections with hinterland Belgium via highway and trains.
RORO berths (for ferries) have direct access to city's main road network. The terminals are connected to Europe's E-road network (E 40, Europe's longest) from Calais (France) connecting Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, all the way to China. The highway's A10 motorway connection is just 1 km from the seaport.
Ostende ferry port has 5 berths (including 1 side loader) and large outdoor parking lot (sized 10 hectares / 0,1 km2).
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