The fascinating Ostend City Museum moved a few years ago into the former summer residence of the Belgian royal family.
The grand, slightly shabby rooms are filled with an eclectic collection of Ostend curiosities gathered by the local history society, including music boxes, ship models, sea charts, souvenirs and ferry timetables.
Highlights include a reconstructed fisherman’s tavern and a frieze commemorating the Siege of Ostend.
The museum also has some mementoes of Queen Louise-Marie, the first Belgian queen, who died in this building.
A creaking staircase leads to the top of the building where a little observatory was built for the queen. When she became too sick to climb the steps, she was hoisted up here on a chair to enjoy the sea view.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.