The small country on the North Sea awaits you! In Belgium you will encounter many nationalities, diverse cultures, friendly people and three official languages - Flemish, French and German. The attractions include the capital Brussels with the imposing Grand Place and the king’s residence, but also the medieval city of Bruges, known as “Little Venice” because of its canals, and Ghent with its ornate old town. The city on the North Sea, Ostend, speaks for itself with the Gothic cathedral and the always lively fish market. In addition, do not miss the popular holiday resorts of Knokke-Heist, Bredene, De Panne and Nieuwpoort. Do not miss a tour of Belgium!
Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady
The most beautiful church in Antwerp
Cathedral of Our Lady – a must for every visitor
Anyone who knows Antwerp as the most important trading center for diamonds knows only one side of the Belgian port city. The metropolis of the province of Antwerp was one of the most important cultural centers in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. She produced gifted painters like the two Brueghels and Peter Paul Rubens.
Rubens works adorn the cathedral
Four of his works can be admired in one of the most impressive examples of Brabant architecture, the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. The cathedral of the diocese of Antwerp is an imposing Gothic building which, at the time when Antwerp was still part of the Spanish Netherlands, towered over everything with its 123 meters. The workers were busy building this church for 169 years, from 1352 to 1521. An inconspicuous chapel was turned into a church with seven naves, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1999. The restoration work lasted 20 years and was only recently completed and shows the church in all its glory again.
The checkered history of the church began in the 10th century when a small St. Mary’s chapel stood on the site of the current building. After its rise to the parish church, the expansion began in the 12th century. Twelve years after completion, a fire caused major damage to the cathedral. Even the turmoil of history did not leave her without a trace: Calvinist iconoclasts destroyed a large part of the works of art, the destruction of which continued under Protestant rule. During the French Revolution, too, there was enormous damage to the church, which was temporarily used as a cattle shed.
This church is a must for anyone traveling through Belgium and stopping in Antwerp. The perfectly shaped construction, which fascinates from the outside, continues inside through breathtaking beauty. The focus is undoubtedly on the Baroque Rubens pictures with their dramatic scenes of the resurrection and the descent from the cross. The main organ with its 90 stops on four manuals and pedals is also impressive. Not to forget the 47-part carillon that rings in the 123 meter high north tower.
The Belgian city of Bruges is the largest city in the province of West Flanders and not only has an interesting history, but also shows itself to be an open-minded and lively city in which history and modernity are wonderfully combined.
Bruges with its approximately 117,000 inhabitants is characterized by the medieval city center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. Two years later, Bruges was also the European Capital of Culture.
The history of the city
The city itself was first mentioned in a document in 1128, but settlements from the 2nd century have already been documented in this area. In the Middle Ages, Bruges was an important European trading metropolis and at the same time a center of textile manufacture and textile finishing. The geographical location to the English Channel and with it the trade with England ensured an extraordinary prosperity of the Bruges citizens.
Sightseeing in Bruges
Like hardly any other city in Europe, Bruges has a wonderful ensemble of medieval buildings that are probably unique in this combination. This includes the “big market”. In the past, this square in the middle of the old town was directly connected to the river bank, so that here in a hall, the water hall, towels were landed and spread out to dry.
But the landmark of the city is the Bruges Belfry. This 83 m high tower, built in the 13th century, served as a fire watch and was at the same time a demonstration of the self-confidence of the Bruges citizens. Even today, no building in Bruges is allowed to tower over the belfry.
The Proviciaal Hof is a neo-Gothic building that is also the seat of government of the province of West Flanders.
In the Holy Blood Basilica, a double church and also the oldest building in Bruges, one of the most important relics in Europe is kept. It should be an ampoule with the blood of Christ.
There are also numerous other interesting buildings and structures in Bruges that make a visit worthwhile, such as “de Halve Maan”, the oldest brewery in Bruges and at the same time a beer museum.
Grand Place in Brussels
one of the most beautiful places in Europe
The Grand Place in Brussels, often referred to as the Big or Grote Markt, is the center of the Belgian capital and at the same time one of the most exciting squares in Europe.
In the past, this place was the scene of all important negotiations as well as executions. If you stay in Brussels, you cannot avoid this place worth seeing, which draws attention to itself with its various structures, but above all with the harmonious interplay of all buildings.
The focus is on the Hotel de Ville, the town hall of the city. It impresses with its attractive exterior, which is given a special face by the late Gothic belfry, which is over 90 meters high. The top of the tower is an octagonal lantern on which a golden monument of the Archangel Michael looks out over the city of Brussels, whose patron saint he is considered to be. Inside, dreamlike halls beckon, which are also worth a visit at any time.
Opposite the town hall is the Broodhuis or the Maison du Roi. The different names come from the fact that it used to be used as a sales point for bread for bakers before the Habsburgs placed the royal court there in the course of taking over the Duchy of Brabant. These two figureheads are complemented by the guild and guild houses built all around, which with their baroque facades create a wonderful flair and ensure a stunning overall picture of the Grand Place.
The attractiveness and historical significance of the Grand Place have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all of the buildings located there are listed.
Twice a year, the already worthwhile Grand Place attracts a particularly large number of people to Brussels. The Flower Festival takes place every other year in August, during which the entire square is covered by a carpet made up of around 700,000 flowers. In winter, this place is the scene of the Christmas market, where a large nativity scene and the glowing Christmas tree create a contemplative atmosphere.