10 Top Tourist Attractions in Belgium

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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Belgium

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Category : Belgium , Europe

Belgium may be a small country in Western Europe, but it packs a lot of history within its borders: knights who went on crusades, the place where Napoleon met his Waterloo and which felt the effects of World War I & II. Because it’s so small, visitors can get to almost any of the tourist attractions in Belgium with three or four hours of train travel. Belgium is also the place that gave the world Belgian waffles, if more incentive is needed to travel there.

10. Leuven Town Hall

Leuven Town Hall

 

The Leuven Town Hall looks more like a cathedral than a seat of government, perhaps because the 236 statues that adorn it are set in religious scenes. These statues are on the hall’s three floors, each floor representing different people who were important to the city’s heritage. Built in the mid-15th century, the Gothic style town hall is very ornate, seeming almost lace-like. It anchors the city’s grote markt, or main square, and sits across from St. Peter’s Church.

9. Mons Belfry

Mons Belfry

 

Mons is a medieval city that today serves as capital of Hainaut Province. It is home to the only Baroque belfry in Belgium. The belfry is located on the highest point in Mons, on a square that once housed a castle; remains of this castle can be seen today. This bell tower is 87 meters (285 feet) high, with a 49-bell carillon at the top; the largest bell weighs in at five tons. The belfry, constructed in the 17th century, is topped by an onion-shaped dome.

8. Bouillon Castle

Bouillon Castle

 

Bouillon Castle sits on a hill overlooking the city of Bouillon. It is believed to date back to the Romans, though it is first mentioned in the late 10th century. One of its early owners sold it to finance his participation in the First Crusade. The castle has three drawbridges, dungeons and a torture chamber that visitors will see as they make their way down from the top. The castle, considered one of the best in Belgium, has a unique, layered defense system designed to protect it from invaders.

7. Grote Markt, Mechelen

Grote Markt, Mechelen

 

The Grote Markt in Mechelen is a large square that is the heart of the city; it is the city’s main square. At one end of the pedestrian cobblestone square stands St. Rombold’s Cathedral, the city’s largest church, while the town hall occupies the other end. Restaurants and shops, that once were private homes, complete the other two sides. When the square was getting underground parking in 2004, remnants of a 13th century road were found. Today, the square hosts a market on Saturday mornings.

6. Antwerp Central

Antwerp Central

 

Centraal Station is the main train station in Antwerp in Flanders. The stone building, which opened in 1905, presents an imposing façade to travelers. It’s topped by a huge dome that is 44 meters (144 feet) high. The station is considered Belgium’s best example of railway architecture. It also is considered one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. Trains depart and arrive on 14 tracks on four levels. Centraal Station is also capable of handling high speed trains.

5. Tournai Cathedral 

Tournai Cathedral

 

Catholicism has been an important religion in the Walloon city of Tournai since the 6th century, though construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady(Notre-Dame de Tournai) did not start until the 12th century. It features three architectural styles: Romanesque, Transitional and Gothic. The cathedral has five bell towers with ceilings that reach up to 157 feet high. The house of worship is also home to The Issue of Souls in Purgatory, a painting by the great Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens. The cathedral is undergoing renovation after it suffered major damage in a 1999 tornado.

4. Gravensteen 

Gravensteen

 

Looking at the 12th century Gravensteen Castle, one can almost picture knights in shining armor riding white horses out the gates. Which wouldn’t be too far off, as the castle was patterned after the ones that the knights saw on the Second Crusade in the Middle Ages. Over the centuries it was used as a prison and factory, with houses built in the courtyard. Scheduled to be demolished, the city of Ghent rescued it in 1885 and renovated it. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belgium. Inside is a museum of torture devices used in Ghent over the ages.

3. Belfry of Bruges

Belfry of Bruges

 

Visitors need to be in good physical shape if they want to climb the Belfry of Bruges as it is 366 steep, narrow steps to the top. Those who complete the climb of this important symbol of Bruges will be rewarded with great views of the city. The medieval bell tower dates back to 1240, built at a time when Bruges was a major player in the cloth industry. It was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire 40 years later, with other fires occurring in the centuries following. Bells still chime out from the tower today.

2. Grand Place 

Grand Place

 

The Grand Place (or Grote Markt) is a must-see for visitors to Brussels. Indeed, this central square is the city’s main landmark. Surrounded by the town hall and guildhalls, the square isn’t very big, as squares around the world go but the old buildings that line its sides make it very special. The Grand Place dates back to the 11th century when markets were held. Nowadays, every two years in August, an enormous “flower carpet” is set up in the Grand Place for a few days. A million colorful begonias are set up in patterns covering a large part of the square.

1. Canals of Bruges

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Belgium

 

Because of its canals Bruges is often called ‘The Venice of the North’. In the Middle Ages the ‘Reie’ river had been turned into a network of canals that enabled the traders to bring their products to the large Water Halls at the Market. Nowadays a boat ride on these famous canals provide a great way to see some of Bruges most beautiful sites.

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10 Most Popular Attractions in Bruges

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Category : Belgium , Europe

One of the most beautifully preserved cities in Europe, Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) is a magical mix of medieval architecture, cobbled streets and postcard-perfect squares, all crisscrossed by broad and serene canals. With its collection of impressive museums, historic breweries, world-class chocolatiers and tasty eateries, it’s no wonder that the city is the most popular destination in Belgium. Gliding down a canal in an open-air boat is a can’t-miss activity in “The Venice of the North”. Whether shopping for the perfect piece of handmade lace or gazing at the artwork of a 15th-century Flemish painter, the attractions in Bruges offer memorable experiences for every traveler.

10. Choco-Story

Choco-Story

 

As a complement to the many chocolate shops in Bruges, the Choco-Story museum provides visitors with a wealth of information about the delicacy, including a look at the history of the cocoa bean’s transformation into the tasty treat. Exhibits at this popular Bruges attraction chronicle the discovery of cocoa in the Americas and examine how the new food gained popularity in Europe. The art of chocolate making is on display too, with live demonstrations that offer visitors opportunities to sample the results on the spot. The family-friendly museum also includes chocolate hunts for children.

9. Groeningemuseum

Groeningemuseum

 

Art lovers will find a treasure trove of Flemish masterpieces in the highly regarded Groeninge Museum. Collections include paintings by Jan van Eyck, who spent his final years living and working in the city. With its attention to detail and high degree of realism, his painting of the Madonna and Child illustrates the contribution this skilled artist made towards the development of oil painting. Exhibits feature paintings from Belgium’s modern artists as well, notably the surrealistic “Serenity” by Paul Delvaux. Other painters represented in this must-see museum include Hieronymus Bosch, Hugo Van Der Goes and Hans Memling.

8. Minnewater

Minnewater

 

The canals of Bruges are known for their gentle flow, and there’s no more better place to enjoy the beauty of the city reflected on the tranquil waters that on the shore of the Minnewater, a wide canal known as the Lake of Love. The nickname comes from a story of a girl name Minna who died trying to escape from an arranged marriage into the arms of her lover Stromberg. Local legend says that lovers who cross the lake’s bridge will experience eternal love. Once a dock where ships and barges moored, the rectangular lake is now part of Minnewaterpark, a public green space that also includes remnants of castle ruins.

7. Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk

 

The tallest structure in Bruges and one of the most visually striking, the Church of Our Lady is a medieval edifice with a central brick spire that towers over the city. Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk is best known for the white marble Madonna and Child statue, the only work by Michelangelo to leave Italy during the artist’s lifetime. The impressive sculpture is situated on an altarpiece in the chapel’s southern aisle. The apse of the church is the final resting place of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy. Bronze effigies of the last Valois Duke of Burgundy his daughter adorn the marble tombs.

6. Ten Wijngaerde

Ten Wijngaerde

 

Founded in 1245, the “Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde,” commonly called the Begijnhof, is the last surviving beguinage in Bruges. Although the quiet complex is no longer home to beguines, it stands as a serene reminder of the religious-minded women who once lived here without taking vows. Today, Ten Wijngaerde is a Benedictine convent where visitors are allowed to wander among the white-washed structures, central green space and 13th-century church. A small beguinage museum offers a glimpse of what life was like for the women who retired from the world and made the beguinage their home.

5. De Halve Maan Brewery

De Halve Maan Brewery

 

A 45-minute tour of De Halve Maan Brewery museum offers visitors an inside look of the brewing techniques that have made Belgium one of the best beer-producing countries in the world. Of the nation’s 180 breweries, the Half Moon is one of the oldest. Six generations have operated the family-owned establishment since 1856. A nominal entry fee includes a free bottle of either the blonde beer Bruges Zot or the high-alcohol-content Straffe Hendrik. Visitors can sample other varieties at the brewery’s bar or restaurant.

4. Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood

 

The main draw at the 12th-century Heilig-Bloedbasiliek located in Burg Square is a fragment of cloth believed to be stained with the blood of Christ. Legend has it that the relic was obtained during the Second Crusade in Jerusalem. Encased in a crystal vial housed in a gold-adorned cylinder, it is displayed every Friday in a silver tabernacle in the heavily renovated chapel upstairs, which is adorned with wall murals and stain-glass windows. With its spare design and serene atmosphere, the well-preserved lower chapel is a beautiful example of the Romanesque architectural style.

3. Belfry of Bruges 

Belfry of Bruges

 

This medieval bell tower dates back to 1240, built at a time when Bruges was a major player in the cloth industry. It was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire 40 years later, with other fires occurring in the centuries following. Bells still chime out from the tower today. Climbing the 366 step to the belfry’s clock rewards visitors with a panoramic city view.

2. Markt of Bruges

Markt of Bruges

 

Few European plazas boast as many sidewalk cafés, shops and architectural treasures as the main square in Bruges. Since 958, this oversized square has been the city’s primary marketplace and administrative center. While most of the structures standing today date to the 19th century, the 13th-century bell tower known as the Belfort still rings out the hours. Many of the gabled buildings that line west and north sides of the square are reconstructions of traditional guildhalls. Horse-drawn carriages rides are available at the Markt for half-hour tours.

1. Canals of Bruges

#1 of Bruges Attractions

 

Because of its canals Bruges is often called ‘The Venice of the North’. In the Middle Ages the ‘Reie’ river had been turned into a network of canals that enabled the traders to bring their products to the large Water Halls at the Market. Nowadays a boat ride on these famous canals provide a great way to see some of Bruges most beautiful sites. Of all the canals, the Groenerei (the ‘green canal’) is the most romantic. It is best seen from Peerdebrug (Horse Bridge); looking towards the Meebrug, the canal is lined with trees and creepers, elegant 17th-century mansions and almshouses and topped by the cathedral tower.


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10 Best Places to Visit in Belgium

Tags :

Category : Belgium , Europe

Traveling in Belgium brings forth images of medieval rooftops, lovely canals, tasty beer, and even more indulgent chocolates. However, there is much for one to see in this remarkable European country, where time seems to move at a slower pace and the people are friendly and welcoming to tourists. From modern cities boasting designer shops and glamorous galleries to cobblestone streets laden with museums and native indulgences, the best places to visit in Belgium have something for everyone to enjoy on a vacation.

10. Mons

Mons

 

As the capital of the province of Hainaut, Mons is best known for the magical and surprising ringing of the town’s glorious Belfry bells, which hail from the 80 meter (270 foot) tower. Winding streets allow visitors to easily traverse the city sites that are a rich mixture of architectural styles. The Gothic-style Mons Town Hall is eye-catching, and the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru boasts a highly impressive collection of 16th century Jacques Du Broeucq alabaster statues. Naturally, a stop by the Van Gogh House is a must to see amazing reproductions of this master’s works.

9. Dinant 

Dinant

 

This city lies along the sparkling Meuse River in the Namur province just 65 km (40 miles) south of the capital city. The Caves of Han and the Grotto of Dinant are some of the natural attractions that bring visitors here. These caves are some of Europe’s largest and most beautiful and are situated in within a Wildlife Reserve teeming with native flora and fauna. However, the city’s landmark, The Collegiate Church of Notre Dame is still remarkable after being partially rebuild post a massive landslide, as does the restored Citadel that overlooks the city. Accesses to most of Dinant’s sanctuaries are accessible with an appointment, but the Sanctuary of Beauraing is open daily.

8. Leuven 

Leuven

 

Home to the oldest Catholic university in the world, Leuven is home about 100,000 residents with nearly 35,000 of them being students that keep the city lively when classes are in session. Two seemingly endless streets are laden with interesting shops and galleries, while the more historical section of the city boasts sites such as the The Belfry on St. Peter’s Church and the Grand Beguinage. Visitors will find much action and things to do in the Grote Market in Leuven, where sites like the City Hall are adjacent to exceptional dining options and street side pubs and cafes. This city’s location makes it an ideal alternative to Brussels as a vacationer’s main hub to explore the rest of the country.

7. Tournai

Tournai

 

Adjacent to France, the quaint and lovely community of Tournai is an excellent place to tune out the hustle and bustle of larger Belgium cities. More than 2000 years of rich cultural history can be explored here, and this city is home to what is believed to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world – the five-towered Gothic and Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral. Constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral houses the Shrine of Our Lady and works by Ruvens and Jordaens. The town Belfry is the oldest in the country and offers visitors 257 steps to the most remarkable views in the city of Tournai. The Museum of Fine Arts is filled with masterpieces from primitive and contemporary artists ranging from Campin and Rubens to Roger Van der Weyden and Van Gogh.

6. Mechelen 

Mechelen

 

A vibrant town that doesn’t draw the tourism that many other Belgium cities do, Mechelen is actually one of the best places to visit in Belgium. From tours of the Beguinage Brewery to river boat tours, there’s much to see and do in this Flanders locale. A trip to the top of the St. Rombout Cathedral’s massive tower is the best way to get a panoramic view of the Antwerp Port and this lovely city. One don’t miss stop is the magnificent Carillion School, where students come from across the globe to get instruction on playing this complex instrument of bells.

5. Ardennes

Ardennes

 

For hiking, biking and camping, visitors to Belgium should head to the rugged hills of the Ardennes with their tight forests, caves and cliffs. They are home to wild boar, deer and lynx and hide a number of friendly villages, lots of castles and a few other notable sights. The impressive caves of Han-sur-Lesse, the castle of Bouillon and the modern Labyrinth of Barvaux are some of the best picks. The city of Namur makes a great base from where to explore the Ardennes and has some fine sights itself too.

4. Antwerp

Antwerp

 

Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be as historically preserved as Bruges or Ghent, it is a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life. Lovers of great food, great beer, and good times, this city is most well-known for the Diamond District, where more than 70 percent of the world’s rough diamonds are traded. Art abounds in Antwerp, with Revenshuis celebrates the baroque works of Peter Paul Ruebens and the Plantin Moretus Museum is the home of printer and bookbinder Christoffel Plantin. Architectural wonders await with the 1351 construction the gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, and the majestic combination of baroque and Gothic architecture of the Saint Paul’s Church.

3. Ghent

Ghent

 

Belgium’s best kept secret, Ghent is a city of history. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. It was once considered the second largest city north of the alps, after Paris. The impact of this rich past can be clearly seen when viewing the imposing architecture of churches and the houses of rich traders. The whole of the city center is restored in this fashion, and still breathes the atmosphere of a thriving late-medieval city state. This is particularly so along the scenic old Graslei harbour, and grand medieval cathedrals and the Gravensteen castle.

2. Brussels

Brussels

 

Known for its diversity of sites and places of interest, Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and is likely where visitors will begin their sightseeing. As the headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Most notably, the Grand Place is the city’s center and was established in the 13th century. Terrace cafes and pubs are plentiful around this central square, as are other sites of interest such as the stunning Gothic style Town Hall. Shopping is plentiful amid the Galeries St. Hubert, a centrally located glass-roof arcade filled with shops, cafes, and theaters.

1. Bruges 

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Belgium

 

The spirit and history of the Vikings emits strongly in this lovely city of canals that have earned it the title as the Europe’s ‘Venice of the North.’ Easy to traverse, Bruges is home to glorious medieval architecture, particularly on the southern side of the city’s main hub, The Grote Market Square. Flanking its western side, visitors can enjoy the neo-gothic style amid Provincial Court. The striking Belfry Tower is just north of the square. Other sites not to miss include the spectacular Gruuthuse Mansion, and the impressive Saint John’s Hospital, which was built in 1188.


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