Best known as the Belgium port for ferries to and from England, this "east end" city with a present day population of about 70,000 received vacation visits from the Belgian kings Leopold I and Leopold II in the 19th century. Important monuments and villas were built to please the Royal Family. The rest of aristocratic Belgium followed and soon Ostend became known as "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts". The town hosted all but one of the sailing events for the 1920 Summer Olympics in neighbouring Antwerp .
In 1838 a railway connection with Brussels was constructed and in 1846 the first ferry sailed to Dover. Nowadays ferries, both passenger and freight, connect with Ramsgate.