Top Attractions in Belgium

Top Attractions in Belgium

Thứ Hai Ngày 16 Tháng 4 Năm 2012


Belgium is a small country in size but one of the most popular tourist attractions of Europe. It is located in the western part of Europe bordering Netherlands in the north, Germany in the east, France in the west and the south. Dotted with rich heritage sites and architectural wonders, Belgium has fabulous things to see and do that have been drawing tourists from all over the world. Here are some of Belgium’s best attractions.

1. Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp

The Royal Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp houses a vast collection of paintings from the 14th century onwards. These include Antwerp’s most significant painters – Rubens, Van Dijck and Jordaens. Apart from the superb art collection, the neoclassical architecture of the museum is magnificent. Built as a ‘temple to fine art’ for the 1894 Antwerp World Exposition, the building is decorated with Corinthian columns and two large bronze hoses.

2. Waterloo

The battle of Waterloo on June 18th, 1815 ended the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I was defeated by the Duke of Wellington. Immortalised by Victor Hugo in “morne plaine” as well as by ABBA in their 1974 hit, the site is now a very popular tourist attraction. There is plenty of battle paraphernalia to visit including the Lion of Waterloo victory monument (Butte du Lion), a huge man-made hill topped by a 28-ton lion. For those energetic enough to climb the more than 200 steps, the lion provides a commanding view of the site. Visit the battlefield site, the H.Q. of Wellington and Napoleon, the Column of Victor Hugo and the Wellington Museum for an audio-visual reconstruction of the battle.

3. The Groeninge Museum, Flanders

The Groeninge Museum houses an extensive display of six centuries of Flemish, Dutch and Belgian paintings. The museum’s many exhibitions include the world-famous collection of ‘Flemish Primitive’ art, works by an array of Renaissance and Baroque masters, a collection of paintings from the 18th and 19th-century Neo-classical and Realist periods, milestones of Belgian Symbolism and Modernism, masterpieces of Flemish Expressionism and many pieces from the city’s collection of post-war modern art.

4. The Ypres War Memorials and the Flanders Battlefields

The town of Ypres is synonymous with the First World War. Scattered throughout the surrounding countryside are silent memorials to the dead of the 1st World War. Visit the authentic trenches in Sanctuary Wood, the life-sized reconstructions of scenes from the War in the Hooge Crater Museum and the bunker of John McCrae where he wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields”, etc. The most moving sites include the 170 British military cemeteries located around Ypres. The Tyne Cot cemetery alone has nearly 12, 000 graves of soldiers from around the world, many unidentified.

5. Tongeren

Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium. Originally a major Roman stronghold, the town was destroyed twice. Once by the 4th century Norsemen and then by the Salian Franks in 881. The Gallo Roman Museum in the town centre, which is built on the remains of a large luxury Roman villa, provides an amazing insight into the town and its history and culture. The remains of a 4th century Roman tower can also be visited. One of the most remarkable monuments of Tongeren is Our Lady’s Basilica with its majestic 64-metre-high bell tower. This marvelous Gothic church has a long history, since its first stone was laid in 1240. Also worth checking out are the Church of Notre Dame with its Romanesque cloisters, the town’s Roman walls and its many houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. There is also a great weekly Sunday flea market.

6. Gravensteen Castle, Ghent

Belgium has over 3,000 castles, about 300 of which are open to the public. Gravensteen is one of the best-known and most popular. Also known as the Castle of the Counts, it is one of the strongest moated fortresses in Europe. Built between 1180 and 1200, it is beautifully situated, surrounded by the river Lieve. Gravensteen was used as a military base for many years, until the 14th century when it served many official functions such as the town’s mint, a court, a prison and a cotton mill! Check out the castle’s crypt, its underground dungeon and its instruments of torture. Not for the faint hearted!

The castle is open from 9am to 6pm April to September and from 9am to 6pm October to March.

7. The Town of Spa

The town of Spa has been known since Roman times for its baths. It became so prominent the very word “spa” became synonymous with “a place to be restored and pampered” in the English language. Since the 16th century, the rich, royal and famous have come to Spa to be refreshed and rejuvenated by the curative powers of the region’s waters and baths. The writer Victor Hugo was a great advocate of Spa’s waters. Today you can still relax or seek cures in the waters of the town, in the Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand Spa (named after Peter the Great) or the Spa Monopole to name but a few. If you are not interested in relaxing in its fine waters, Spa also offers beautiful architecture and unrivalled historic charm.

8. Bruges (Brugge)

Bruges is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its network of canals and the 50 bridges which span them. In the 13th to the 15th centuries it was one of the most important centres of trade in Northern Europe. Today it is a living history book due to its well-preserved medieval architecture and attractions which span the centuries. Bruges is one of the most exciting and romantic tourist attractions in Europe and offers plenty to see and do. Visit its superb museums and churches, wander its narrow cobblestone streets or take a boat trip along its canals.

9. The Diamond Museum, Antwerp

Antwerp has long been the world centre of diamond processing and the diamond trade. The famous ‘Antwerp cut’ and the advanced scientific research are documented in this fascinating museum. It traces the production process from mining to the dazzling finished product. There is a reconstructed nineteenth-century diamond and a treasure chamber in which to view some priceless pieces of jewellery. Each Saturday afternoon you can watch a diamond-cutter at work.

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