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Belgium is one of the most prosperous European countries with excellent tourist services. The sights of Belgium are well-preserved medieval monuments, among which tourists are especially attracted by Gothic castles. The high standard of living in Belgium is directly reflected in the attitude of the state to historical and cultural sites. We can say that the cult of iconic objects of history dominates here. They are treated like a national treasure.
What to see first in Belgium
If you want your vacation to make an indelible impression, consider contacting excursion specialists. Guides in Belgium speak different languages and have a responsible approach to work – you just need to tell where you want to go, and the guide will make sure that the trip goes perfectly.
1. The historic center of Bruges
View from the canal to medieval houses and the Gaul tower in the historic center of Bruges
Modern Belgium is interesting for many travelers. This is largely due to medieval castles and squares, which were lucky enough to survive to this day. When asking yourself what to see in Belgium, don't forget Belfry Palace and Gallus Tower. The Belgians consider the date of their construction to be 1040, and the square in Bruges became their location. The tower can be seen from everywhere, compositionally it dominates the area.
The architectural monument belongs to medieval objects. In earlier centuries, it was nothing more than a covered market. Trade was active here, since many trade routes have always passed through Belgium. The realistic originality of medieval architecture can be felt here by touch. The structure is monumental, built of solid stone. Due to the discreet colors typical of the Middle Ages, the palace and the bell tower seem gloomy from the side.
Brown and beige tones prevail on the facades, but upon closer inspection, tourists admire how many architectural and decorative details are on the walls of ancient buildings. The square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Currently, traffic is prohibited on it.
Official website: https://www.visitbruges
2. St. Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent Altar (Ghent )
Saint Bavo Cathedral, where the Ghent Altar is kept
Church folding altar in the Catholic Cathedral of St. Bavo in Ghent Web Gallery of Art
The Cathedral has a dedication. The building was erected in honor of Saint Bavo. It is interesting for those who have not yet decided what to visit in Belgium. Construction work was carried out for a very long time, at different stages they stopped and resumed again. It is generally accepted that the year of construction of the cathedral is 1569. After the old abbey of St. Bavo was dissolved, the church became collegiate. This happened after an uprising directed against Charles 5. The diocese was founded later, in 1559. Tourists will be interested to know that it was in the church of St. Bavo that Charles 5 was baptized.
The Ghent altar is the treasury of the cathedral. Its architecture corresponds to a certain theme. It is based on the worship of the lamb. On the altar stands a defenseless and touching Lamb, bearing the symbol of Christ.
The work of Jan and Hubert van Eyck was crowned with success, and the altar is considered to be a masterpiece of religious creativity. In his composition, in restrained shades, the creativity of the Northern Renaissance was reflected.
Official website: http://www.sintbaafskathedraal
3. In the Fields of Flanders Museum (Ypres)
Exposition of the museum “In the fields of Flanders”
The museum recreates the atmosphere of front-line Ypres. The museum exposition, updated in 2012, contains authentic documents and attributes of that time. Here you can see maps, weapons, uniforms and personal belongings of soldiers.
The organizers used interactive technology, including sound systems, touch screens, and video projection facilities. Software provided by OCULAR.
The bloody battle of the First World War at Ypres is presented to visitors on an interactive relief map. At the same time, the image is complemented by the stories of doctors, soldiers, nurses and priests. True stories of personal tragedies are presented in interactive kiosks.
John McCrae's poem “In the Fields of Flanders” is dedicated to the tragedy of the First World War. It immortalizes the memory of A. Helmer, who died during the battle of Ypres. For modern history, the poem is relevant for the sad image of a red poppy, which is perceived as a symbol of ardent grief for all those who died in military conflicts.
Official website: http://www.inflandersfields
4. Gravensteen Castle (Ghent)
Medieval castle Gravensten between the rivers Lys and Lieve
The castle became a model fortification. It was erected in the 9th century during the reign of Count Baudouin I Iron Hand. The functional purpose of the defensive structure was protection from the Vikings, who were famous for their discipline and extreme cruelty. In the 10th century, the fortress was rebuilt by order of Count Arnulf 1. The building material was wood.
All fortifications were built around the main building, located on a hill. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone numerous modernizations. In the 12th century, at the behest of Count Robert 1 of Frisian, the tower was completely rebuilt. The new architects arranged a three-story building, in which luxurious halls with a stone staircase appeared. A distinctive feature of this tower was the presence of latrines and stoves. It was available only to the wealthiest owners.
The castle retained its administrative function throughout all subsequent centuries. In the twentieth century, it became one of the main attractions of Belgium. The 800th anniversary of the castle was celebrated in 1980.
Official website: https://gravensteen.stad.gent
5. Basilica of the Holy Blood (Bruges)
The interior of the Basilica of the Holy Blood
The monument was built in the 12th century. This is the oldest building, which is preserved for posterity almost in its original form. According to the tradition of that time, the monument is located on the market square. The chapel has two floors, and their architectural execution is different. The lower level has become a reflection of the Romanesque style.
The upper part is more like a fortification, in which you can see the windows of the loophole, rounded columns and high pointed towers. The chapel complements the sights of Belgium and serves as direct evidence of how carefully the modern authorities treat historical monuments. The facades can be called ascetic, if not for the sophisticated stone ornament and beautiful stone bars on the oval windows.
Top-level metal decorative elements give the impression of flying lace. They somewhat smooth out the heavy visual perception of the medieval structure. The courtyard is paved with stone. The booming echo of steps in it remains as sonorous as in former times.
Official site: http://www.holyblood
6. Valley Meuse in Belgium
Meuse River Valley
If you are wondering what to visit in Belgium, pay attention to the Meuse valley. Travel along the river promises to be really interesting. Here you can admire the ancient limestones, which rise almost sheer above the fast river. Dense forests and plains have become a haven for small cozy villages. The Meuse valley has many hiking trails.
In addition to walking routes, you can choose a bike ride. Many sights of Belgium can be seen along the cycle paths. There are many beautiful citadels on the tops of limestone cliffs, which guides enthusiastically talk about. The embankment itself is organized in accordance with the architecture of European towns. It is impeccably clean here, the pavements are not just cleaned, but are washed daily with special shampoos.
Ecological cleanliness is felt in the special freshness of the air and the transparency of the river. In buildings on the embankment no more than 5 floors. These are compact and very comfortable buildings, among which there are hotel houses with excellent service.
7. Grand Place (Brussels)
Floral carpet on the Grand Place in Brussels Wouter Hagens
The Grand Place remembers the noise of the market trade. It was founded in the 13th century, and its purpose was to provide comfortable trade for wealthy merchants. Trading rows were arranged along the entire perimeter of the square. In modern terms, the area had a large capacity. It was paved with powerful paving stones, which easily withstood the greatest mechanical loads.
In addition to shopping arcades, knightly tournaments were also held on the square. Show trials were also held here. The area corresponds to the Gothic style. The buildings surrounding it along the perimeter have stylish columns and lattice windows on their facades. Each building is necessarily crowned, according to the Gothic canons, with pointed towers or domes. Everyone who is interested in the sights of Belgium should visit the Grand Place.
It is interesting that in Belgium there is an original and beautiful custom to decorate the Grand Place with a flower carpet every even year. Tourists from all over the world come to see this mesmerizing spectacle. The ancient buildings surrounding the square are so beloved in Belgium that they have been given their own names: She-wolf, Cart, Fox.
The Grand Place, like any building of the Middle Ages, more than once withstood the attacks of enemies. For example, in 1695, the square was besieged by French troops, who thoroughly destroyed it. But over time, skillful carvings, figurines and garlands of stones reappeared on the buildings surrounding the square. Now the square is protected by the state.
8. Mons Old Town
Belfry in Mons
A cozy and clean town is located 20 kilometers from the border with France. The city is called a university city; you will not find impressive medieval castles and stone-paved squares in it. For tourists, Mons is interesting for old buildings and special European comfort. The city has the main historical symbol – the baroque bell tower, which rises to 80 meters. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that in all of Europe it is the only baroque bell tower.
It has become a UNESCO heritage site. If you have not decided what to see in Belgium, remember this small town. Other attractions include the modern BAM and Pass museums. Here you can learn about the features of the exhibits, the geographical location of the city and its modern development.
9. St. Peter's Church (Leuven)
St. Peter's Church with a church bell tower
Belgian sights would be incomplete without a tour of St. Peter's Church. According to legend, the church was built on the site of a wooden temple, which was built in 987. When the church was restored after a fire in the 12th century, its Romanesque architectural style was preserved. But now it has become stone. Its prototype is the Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht.
Over time, the architectural style began to change actively. In Belgium, the Gothic style was often used in the creation of places of worship. The Church of St. Peter was no exception.
Ancient architects planned a 70-meter tower, but the plan was not destined to come true. The fact is that in this place there are unstable soils that could hardly withstand such a massive structure.
In our time, destructive wars (World War I and World War II) have had their devastating effect. St. Peter's Church was destroyed almost to the ground, but each time it was reborn even more beautiful.
Tourists will be interested in seeing the famous work “The Last Supper” by Dirk Bouts in Belgium. In addition to this masterpiece, the works of artists of the 15th century are kept here. Guides in Belgium pay special attention not only to the external composition of the church, but also to its interior decoration. The church is decorated in classical Gothic traditions. It is of constant interest to tourists.
View of the Lion Hill monument
The municipality of Waterloo can be fully attributed to the sights of Belgium. The city is located 15 km from Brussels, and almost half of its population are foreigners. Why is Waterloo interesting for tourists? Of course, the legendary battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon suffered a crushing defeat from the troops of the 7th coalition, led by the Duke of Wellington, as well as Field Marshal Blucher.
A stone lion facing France on a massive pedestal is a memory of that bloody battle. The monument was erected by decree of the king of the Netherlands. The King dedicated a monument to his son, the Prince of Orange. The prince was wounded during this battle, but the doctors managed to save his life. In addition, Waterloo has a rich Wellington Museum and the beautiful Catholic Church of St. Joseph. There is a legend that Wellington won the battle thanks to his long prayers in this church before the battle.
Sightseeing in Belgium: what else to visit while in Belgium
Obviously, there is something to see here any category of tourists, ranging from families with children and pensioners, ending with young people and those wishing to study the local culture more deeply. It is worth continuing to get acquainted with this amazing country by going on excursions in Belgium to the following tourist sites.
11. Semois Valley
Picturesque Semois Valley and Semois River
What to see in Belgium? Everyone chooses a trip according to their own preferences. Someone is attracted by noisy cities, someone is a fanatic of medieval castles. There are also travelers who are only interested in museums and only from a scientific point of view. In contrast to the tourist routes passing through the capitals and fashionable hotels, the Semois Valley invites those who appreciate the pristine beauty of nature.
Most often, hiking tours take place in the valley with professional guides who will enthusiastically tell you about the features of this area. But no less interesting will be a trip along the river by boat. Landscapes surrounding travelers can be called divine. The gently sloping green shores and the silky grass of the valley leave an indelible impression on tourists. The valley is especially beautiful in spring, when a lot of beautiful wild flowers bloom here.
12. Notre Dame Cathedral (Tournay)
Notre Dame Cathedral in Tournai
Notre Dame Cathedral is known to anyone who is interested in the sights of Belgium. Currently, the cathedral is the seat of the bishop. Notre Dame is an iconic architectural and religious site in Europe. The Romanesque architecture characteristic of the cathedral can be seen in the pointed towers and ascetic gray tones on the facade.
The building is 58 meters high and 36 meters wide. The reason for the creation of Notre Dame was a fire in the 12th century, which destroyed the episcopal church complex.
The main building of the cathedral was erected in 1191. Along with it, utility rooms, towers and choirs were added. Later, Bishop Gauthier de Marvy ordered to rebuild the religious building in accordance with the canons of the Gothic style. Notre Dame in its present form was finally completed in 1325, when two more side chapels appeared.
Belgians are having a hard time with a major robbery in 2008, when more than 10 religious objects were stolen from the cathedral. Among them were two episcopal rings and 8 chalices. 3 crosses were also missing, one of which contained a particle of the Cross of Christ. Historians estimate the stolen property at 40 million euros. In 2000, the cathedral became a UNESCO heritage site. Notre Dame is a special pride for the Belgians.
13. Liège – Capital of Culture
Panorama of the city of Liege
The city of Liege is considered to be the cultural capital of Belgium. For Liege in the Middle Ages there was a fierce struggle between the nobility and the clergy. The struggle was not for life, but for death, which is confirmed by the surviving information about the tragic events of 1312. That year, supporters of the nobility were burned alive in the church of St. Martin.
In addition to religious wars, Liege was shaken by economic and political upheavals. In the 15th century, the Netherlands tried several times to annex Liege, but the city courageously defended its independence. Charles the Bold twice made devastating raids on the city. In 1468, Liege was almost destroyed because of this, but later rebuilt.
The 16th century is considered the golden age for the city. During the reign of Erar from the Lamarck family, a real cult of gunsmiths was established in the city. In addition, at the same time, the city experienced the rise of steel centers. Modern historians believe that if it were not for the constant struggle between the townspeople and the bishops, Liege could have become the country's largest economic center.
However, the dominance of the episcopate was brought to an end in 1789. Since then it has become the administrative center. During the establishment of French domination, the townspeople showed great fortitude in the struggle for the independence of Belgium. We can say that it was Liege that became the stronghold of the guerrilla war of 1830. When choosing what to visit in Belgium, it makes sense to get acquainted with the heroic history of this glorious city.
14. Manneken Pis Statue (Brussels)
The famous statue “Manneken Pis”
Funny, ironic and in its own way touching sculpture “Manneken Pis” is installed in Brussels near the Grand Place. The sculpture is a child's figurine fixed on a pedestal. Historians found the first mention of such a statue in the fifteenth century and even earlier – at the end of the 14th. According to legend, it refers to the events of the Grimbergen War.
The legend says that the cradle with the son of the ruler Gottfried III of Leuven hung on a tree, and the sight of a little boy, the future monarch, served as a kind of inspiration for the warriors. According to legend, the boy urinated on the warriors, transferring his strength to them.
There is another legend, according to which a certain boy extinguished the beginning fire from enemy ammunition in such an unpretentious way. The authorship of the modern version belongs to the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy, who donated his amusing masterpiece to the city in 1619. There is an attractive force in this monument. Perhaps his charm lies in the many heroic legends that surround the boy?
Robbers have repeatedly attempted on this landmark in Belgium. After the statue disappeared without a trace in 1960, it was replaced by a copy, and the event itself became the occasion for the creation of the feature film Saïda a enlevé Manneken-Pis.
Official website: https://www.brussels.be
15. Charleroi (Hainaut)
50 km from Brussels is one of the largest cities in Belgium, Charleroi. It is a major aviation and railway hub of the country. The population here is not numerous, just over 200 thousand people live in the city. The city-forming direction of the economy is steel production. Charleroi was founded in 1666.
Then the fortification fortress of Charnoy was erected on this site, later renamed at the behest of King Charles 2. Currently, the city is one of the five most beautiful cities in the country, which gives reason to rank it among the sights of Belgium. Interestingly, one of the city's stadiums was used during the European Football Championship in 2000.
16. Diamond Quarter (Antwerp)
Jewelry shop signs in Antwerp's Diamond Quarter Kristina DC Hoeppner
Antwerp is the second most important Belgian city after Brussels, the birthplace of famous artists – Rubens and Van Dyck, the largest port and a place where historical and modern sights meet <b>.</b> Being the center of diamond trading in Europe, Antwerp has its own Diamond Quarter, which houses a lot of jewelry stores, workshops, trading exchanges, and a huge amount of precious diamonds of different colors, shapes and sizes are offered to buyers. But contrary to expectations, you will not find here some semblance of the golden land of El Dorado – this quarter is occupied by ordinary, most often residential buildings, and jewelry shops huddle on their first floors.
17. Atomium (Brussels)
View of the Atomium – a modern symbol of Brussels Paweu88
A real treasure for visitors to Belgium is the capital city of Brussels. Pompous streets are full of monumental architectural creations – luxurious palaces, historical shopping galleries, museums full of priceless exhibits. Among the most iconic objects of the city are the Brussels City Hall, the Royal Palace, the stock exchange building, the Notre-Dame du Sablon Cathedral, the royal museums of fine arts. A striking contrast to the gothic, empire and baroque facades flickering everywhere is a modern monument to the molecule. This is the Atomium – a construction in the form of a model of a molecule, enlarged billions of times. Giant atoms are connected by pipes, inside of which there are entire corridors. The unusual monument was dedicated to the opening of the World Exhibition of Achievements.
Official website: http://www.atomium
18. Rene Magritte Museum (Brussels)< /h3>
Facades of the Rene Magritte Museum in Brussels Warburg
Placing the most important sights of Belgium on its territories, Brussels did not ignore the creativity of local talents. These include the famous Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte. The neoclassical building of 2009, located on the Royal Square, hosts a permanent exhibition of more than two hundred works by the author. The collection of paintings created in the most mysterious surrealist style is supplemented by sketches, sculptures, photo experiments, short surrealistic films and other creations of the artist. The museum itself is officially part of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Official website: https://www.fine-arts-museum
19. Nemo 33 (Ukkel)
A round-shaped well with a depth of a twelve-story house in the Nemo pool 33 Sergey Markov
Portholes at the very bottom of the pool, through which you can see Nemo Bar 33 Sergey Markov
If you are asked what attractions are in the Belgian capital <b>, </b>find<b> </b>the answer is easy in any tourist guide, then do not forget that there are other cities and areas in Belgium worthy of attention. For example, in the small Belgian town-commune of Uccle, a deep-sea diving training center was opened not so long ago. It is unique in that within its walls is the deepest swimming pool in the world, which has a well with a depth of as much as 35 meters. The pool is filled with 2.5 thousand cubic meters of fresh purified water, and numerous windows are built into its walls through which you can watch swimmers at different depths. The complex was created not only for diving training, but also for recreation and filming.
Official website: http://www.nemo-33m
20. Antwerp Central Station (Antwerp)
Antwerp Central Station on Astrid Square in Antwerp Rafaël Delaedt (Arafi)
Among other famous objects of Antwerp, it is worth highlighting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp with paintings by famous artists, the Museum of Fine Arts with works by local and European painters, a large city port, as well as a railway station, recognized as one of the most significant sights of the city. It was Antwerp-Central that repeatedly occupied leading positions among the most beautiful stations in the world. Its building, erected at the beginning of the last century, has an impressive facade, similar to the facades of magnificent medieval palaces. The interior decoration is striking in its luxury and scale – the walls and ceiling are decorated with more than twenty types of marble and other valuable stones.
21. Belfry of Bruges (Bruges)
Bruges Belfry at the Graham Richter Market Square
The main tower of the city of Bruges, which has become its symbol, is a beautiful neo-Gothic building in the center of the Market Square. The first belfry on this site was built back in the 13th century – its tower was used to monitor the approaches to the city. Since then, the tower has been repeatedly erected, destroyed and restored again. Today, there are 47 bells on its bell tower, which make a beautiful ringing through the carillon. Particularly intrepid travelers strive to overcome the 366 steps to the top of the tower to see beautiful panoramas from the very peak of this attraction. The Netherlands from here, from an 83-meter height, are viewed especially well, due to the proximity of the bell tower to the border with this state.
22. Leuven (Diel River)
Attractions in the historic center of Leuven Wouter Hagens
Having wondered what to see in Belgium in a week, it is worth making a plan of the most interesting tourist sites that are not very distant from each other. For example, just 30 kilometers from the Belgian capital there is a small and cozy town with cute colored houses and cobbled streets. This is Leuven, located on the banks of the River Dil – a world of noisy students, green squares and beautiful old buildings. It is here that the oldest and most prestigious university in the country is located, so tens of thousands of local and foreign students annually come to the city to study. Leuven's interesting places include a tourist office that organizes walking tours of the city, an elegant stone and lace town hall, the Great Beguinage area with hundreds of unique old houses, a beautiful botanical garden.
Official website: https://www.leuven
23. En-sur-Les (Namur Province)
One of the halls of An-sur-Lec – caves of natural origin user :Hullie
In the Belgian province of Namur, you can visit a mysterious and enchanting natural monument – the An-sur-Les karst cave, formed as a result of the dissolution of limestone rocks by the waters of the Les River. Making its way underground at a depth of about a kilometer, the river once washed out an impressive cavity in the rocky rock. You can get inside the cave on a special sightseeing tram, following from the center of the village of the same name. Inside the cave there is always high humidity and low temperature – about +13 degrees. The total length of the internal tunnels is more than 15 km. The hall of stalactites, called the Minaret, deserves special attention. The arches of the hall are dotted with stalactites and stalagmites, whose age reaches 12 thousand years!
Official website: http://www.grotte
24. Lake of Love (Bruges)
Scenic view of the Lake of Love in Bruges Luu
Swans on Love Lake in Minnewater Park in Bruges Dennis Jarvis
Spring is the perfect time to travel through the Belgian expanses: optimal temperatures and sunny weather create excellent conditions for tourism. When choosing what to see in Belgium in May, you should include a visit to Lake of Love in your travel plan. In one of the most beautiful parks in Belgium – Minnwater, which is especially transformed in spring, there is an artificial lake created in the 13th century as a reservoir. Once there was a port with access to the sea and the most important trade routes, and now it is a great place for May walks, when young greenery pleases with its rich colors, and the air has a comfortable temperature. Since the 15th century, swans have been bred here, which even today sedately swim through the calm lake waters.
25. Suan Forest (Brussels)
A green corner of the forest on the southern outskirts of the city of Brussels Donar Reiskoffer
When choosing the sights of Belgium for children, we recommend paying attention to an interesting natural site – the Soignes Forest, located very close to the capital. The forest, spread over a small area of 40 square kilometers, is an ideal place for walking with children, because here you can not only take a walk, but also meet some of the inhabitants of the forest, such as squirrels, hares, and various types of birds. You can also ride horses, have a picnic in the fresh air, play football, basketball, frisbee, badminton and other sports games on the territory of the sports school located here. In addition, in the forested area there is a large and clean lake where you can go fishing. You can get to the forest from the city by metro.