The construction of the present collegiate church began in 1450 with the chancel, which was finished around 1506. The transept was completed in 1527, and work on the nave lasted until 1621. Laid out in the form of a Latin cross with 29 chapels around the main nave, transept and chancel, this building is recognised as a leading part of Wallonia’s heritage. It was the private and personal church of the Saint Waltrude canonesses, who had dreamt of crowning the west face of their collegiate church with a 623 ft high tower. This tower, of which the first stones were laid around 1549, was never finished, and work on it was finally abandoned between 1686 and 1687.
Do not miss the Treasury: one of the most beautiful collections of religious jewellery in Belgium. You can see the reliquary of St. Waltrude: one of them (la châsse) contains the body of St. Waltrude and the other (le chef) contains her head; The oldest stained-glass windows: especially the five windows of the apse, done by a master glassblower from Mons and given to the church by the Emperor Maximilian of Austria in 1510-1511; The sculptures: especially the statues in white stone of St Michael thrusting down Satan (15th century) and of St. Waltrude (16th century) and The Golden Coach: wooden vehicle painted and gilded in Louis XVI style (1780/1781), used each year for the annual Procession of the Trinity (Doudou).
An unusual and incredibly educational museum, a sumptuous temple to Neoclassical art and the art of living in the First Empire, with countless evocative reminders of the Napoleonic era.
Its prestigious collection of exotic clocks (1795-1815) is one of the largest in the world and includes some really exceptional pieces including the stunning “Paul et Virginie” clock by the bronzemaker Thomire, commissioned by Bonaparte himself in 1802. The theme of the “noble savage”, nurtured by Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Bernardin de St-Pierre (Paul et Virginie) and Chateaubriand (Atala) is explored in a magnificent collection, which is well worth a visit.
The museum also includes a remarkable collection of porcelain pieces by the best manufacturers from Paris and Brussels, as well as exquisite gold work, exceptional gilded bronze pieces, antique jewellery (including some stunning cameos) and an array of incredibly rare and fascinating objects.
Built in the park belonging to Hainaut’s counts, on the site of the former château, the building nicknamed “el Catiau” towers over the city. From the garden, the view of Mons is simply stunning. From the top of the hill, you can imagine the history of this city, the trials that it has had to live through over the centuries, and its influence through time, until it became the capital of Hainaut. Next to the belfry, the Sainte-Calixte Chapel remains the city’s oldest religious monument. This Roman style chapel was built in 1051 and now houses a museum where you can learn about the history of the old château and the restoration undergone by the belfry.
Trazegnies was the seat of a powerful seigniory and the cradle of one of the most illustrious families in Europe. Trazegnies' family possessed a castle worthy of her. Over the centuries, the castle has undergone a great many transformations. The splendid main building is a jewel in Belgium’s crown and is almost unique in the country, displaying architecture in the style of Louis XIII. The Romanesque cellars still survive today from the primitive manor, a rare testimony of the 11th century.
Today, part of the castle is available for hire for different events: seminars, buffets and much more.
With 80,000 photographs in its collection (800 of which are permanently on the show), Charleroi's Museum of Photography is considered the most important of its kind in Europe.
Over 13,000 titles and 4,000 files dedicated to photography are accessible to the public in the museum's library. The museum shop features the publications, photography works, gadgets and ideas for gifts and decoration.
Go for a stroll in the museum's park: 85 ha featuring protected trees. Perfect to conclude your visit and reflect on the gems you have just seen!
The BPS22, the Hainaut Province's Museum of Art in Charleroi, is an exhibition space especially dedicated to art forms focusing on current social issues. The museum's programme gives prominent space to international artists that deal with greater global issues, such as Kendell Geers, Jota Castro, mounir fatmi and Wang Du, as well as cultural phenomena characteristic of our time, such as the world of media and urban subcultures like punk or graffiti, for instance.
With a wealth of over 7000 works of art, dating from the end of the 19st century to the present time, and including paintings to videos and performance, as well as installations and tapestries and a large archive collection, the Hainaut Province Collection is stored at the BPS22.
The Glass Museum, at the Bois du Cazier in Marcinelle, retraces five thousand years of art, history and technology.
The collections are presented from an innovative angle: a backwards chronology invites the visitor on a completely new voyage, from the present day to the origins of glass.
Also available Glass-blowing demonstrations with a blowtorch in the workshop.
Guided tours can be arranged in Dutch, English, French or Italian. Booking required.
Dating back to the end of the 13th century, the Oignies Abbey is located in a classified and preserved historic setting. Its robust silhouette stands on the foundations of the old chapel Saint-Nicolas, dedicated to the patron saint of boatmen. The abbey is known worldwide for its cultural, social and economic activities which throughout the centuries have allowed it to flourish. His treasure is considered one of the seven wonders of Belgium. It was a meeting place and residence of illustrious personalities and the production workshop of goldsmith Hugo d'Oignies. His invaluable pieces are always present in Namur. Also place where Sainte Marie d'Oignies lived exhilarating hours as well as.
Nestled in a park of 3 ha, the abbey is planted with beautiful trees more than a hundred years old; this secure park is entirely walled and is on the edge of the Sambre. The Abbey of Ognies offers its guests what they need to feel at home. Thousands of guests from all over the world and of all ages have crossed paths and crossed each other for more than 800 years.
So many adjectives that describe Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai, a true jewel of medieval architecture. The only Belgian Cathedral listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this masterpiece of Western art draws the scenery of the country for miles around. A must-visit in your discovery of Tournai!
134 m long including 58 m for the only choir, 67 m wide for the transept, 83 m high for the tallest tower. The proportions of Notre Dame Cathedral are gigantic. The nave and transept built in the 12th century are Romanesque. The choir, completed in 1254, is of Gothic style. This combination of stones gives it an undeniable originality and the 5 towers that dominate the city make it a unique building of its kind.
Discover an exceptional treasure room with the presence of major works: the two large reliquaries of Notre-Dame and Saint-Eleuthère, precious ivories, goldsmiths' pieces, a 14th century Arras tapestry.
Since 2006, a vast restoration project is at work: stabilization of the Gothic choir, replacement of roofs, cleaning stone walls, restoration of stained glass windows ... The building site is constantly evolving and completely renovated parts appear over the days.
The Belfry of Tournai, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is the oldest in Belgium. True watchtower since the 12th century, it overlooks the Grand Place of Tournai of its 72 meters high. After having climbed the 257 steps, the top of the Belfry offers you the most beautiful panorama of the city and its surroundings!
The Belfry has long played an important role in the city of Tournai: watchtower, prison, steeple, city hall ... It previously symbolized the communal freedoms and its bell, called "Bancloque", warned the population of the trials, executions, invasions or fires.
After being renovated for 10 years (1992-2002), the Belfry allows you to discover its history through didactic panels, the dungeon, the carillonneur's room and the carillon that resonates in the city every Sunday in summer.
The Grand Place of Tournai, a place of relaxation in a prestigious setting. Taste the conviviality of a Grand-Place animated by the terraces of numerous cafes and restaurants.
From the rue Saint-Martin, the rue des Maux or the Place de l'Eveche, join one of the most beautiful and authentic Grand Place in the country! Triangular in shape, it is the perfect place to enjoy one of our typical dishes or one of our local beers.
On sunny days, it's a whole neighborhood that comes alive, rocked by the sound of water jets and child players. The terraces fill up, the little sweet pleasures are tasted, the chime sounds for the delight of music lovers. Place of exchange, market and events, the Grand Place radiates throughout the City of 5 Clochers!
The Forest and Waters Museum is located in the Domaine de Bérinzenne in Spa. Come and discover the many secrets of the fauna and flora of the Fagnes.
Through murals, stuffed animals, interactive modules and its cheerful mascot, the Musée de la Forêt et des Eaux offers a real immersion in the enchanting natural world of the Spa region.
Wander from one room to another and listen to birds singing, streams flowing, observe wild animals and learn about the famous Spa water and forestry.
A new theme is chosen every year, inspiring an exhibition and an adventure: a treasure hunt for children to make the most of the site. The museum is nestled at the heart of the Domaine de Bérinzenne, the perfect start for walks in the Fagne regio and home for the CRIE de Spa welcome centre.
The Horta Museum is established in the private house and studio of the famous architect, Victor Horta (1861 - 1947). Built between 1898 and 1901, the two buildings are characteristic of Art Nouveau at its peak. The house has kept intact most of its interior decors: mosaics, stained-glass windows, furniture, paintings and murals form a collection whose every detail evokes harmony and sophistication. The museum is also a centre for research into Victor Horta and Art Nouveau. The architect's personal archives, a collection of blueprints for his buildings and a library are open to the public by arrangement.
The Grand-Place is the central square of the City of Brussels. All over the world it is known for its decorative and aesthetic wealth. The Grand-Place is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the Maison du Roi.
The Grand-Place is considered as one of the most beautiful places of the world. The Grand-Place of Brussels was registered on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO in 1998.
Nowadays, numerous festive or cultural events are organized on the Grand-Place: the Flower carpet (77 x 24m, event organized every 2 years in mid-August and with more than 500.000 begonias; the Ommegang which commemorates the tribute created in 1549 during the coming of Charles the Fifth in Brussels to present it his son, the future Philippe II; the Christmas tree; the daily flower market; the procession of the Meyboom and concerts.
How do you go about explaining how the European Parliament works, in a simple and sexy way? The Parlamentarium takes on the challenge with interactive tools such as a 360° digital film, role playing for school children and an interactive floor map. The Parlamentarium is open every day, visits are completely free and can be experienced in no less than 24 European languages. Suitable for individual visitors, schools and families.
The ins and outs of how the European Parliament works, how European unification came about and how Members of the European Parliament address todays challenges are explained in an easy and accessible way in what is the largest parliamentary visitors’ centre in Europe.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center has been honouring the creators and heroes of the 9th Art for more than 25 years.
The regularly renewed permanent exhibitions and a diversified programme of temporary exhibitions enable visitors to discover the countless aspects of comics art. Tintin and the Smurfs lead the way towards further adventures, an encounter with a world where creativity has no limits.
Enhanced by an exceptional Art Nouveau home designed by Victor Horta, the Belgian Comic Strip Center is just as much a tribute to the pioneers as a glimpse of contemporary comics art.
The Europa building is one of the most recent and magnificent examples of contemporary architecture in Brussels. The enormous cube is made up of 3 750 restored window frames and contains a glass lantern that, at night, is beautifully lit up by 374 LED tubes. This ‘House of the European Member States’, with its multicoloured interior, is the main seat of the European Council and of the Council of the EU, and is where meetings between EU ministers and heads of government are now held.
Philippe Samyn, the Europa building’s lead architect, sees it as the expression of a number of the values espoused by the EU. The façade thus consists of window frames from every EU country which signify both the diversity and the craftsmanship of every Member State, as well as the desire to promote sustainability. Thanks to the collection of rainwater, the use of solar panels across the whole area on the top of the building, and the optimised façade structure, the Europa building has been awarded the Valideo environmental certificate. The interior lantern, built in a shape that was necessary to avoid too much pressure being exerted on the ground and the underground metro tunnels, mainly contains meeting rooms and a large press room and press area.
Near the Basilica, the Belgian Chocolate Village is one of the largest museums dedicated to chocolate. The scenographic tour displays and explains the stages of the manufacture of chocolate, its uses, its history, its benefits, its economy and its diversity. It appeals to all the visitor’s senses while a tropical greenhouse reproduces the conditions of cocoa cultivation. Thanks to the chocolate workshop integrated in the museum tour you experience the daily work of the artisan chocolate makers who let you taste their last creations.
The Cinquantenaire park is comprised of a vast set of gardens dotted with monuments and museums. It is dominated by a triumphal arch with three arches. The park hosts numerous activities throughout the year: events, celebrations, firework displays, sporting events, concerts, etc.
This place of interest was built in 1880 for the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium. The broad pathways lead to the Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces & Military History, the Royal Museums of Art and History and to Autoworld. At the top of the three triumphal arches there’s a bronze quadriga and an unbeatable sweeping view over the whole of Brussels.
This 20-hectare park, which is Schaerbeek’s green lung, is a place for relaxation which is steeped in history and culture. It is arranged into three sections: the historical park, the great lawns and the playground area.
A spot praised by writers and artists, a refuge for botanists and ornithologists, the park also has a collection of sculptures, as well as areas set aside for sporting activities and young people. In July and August, free concerts are organised.
Located at the foot of the Atomium, Mini-Europe is the only park where you can have a whistle-stop tour of Europe in a few short hours. A truly unique journey! Enjoy a stroll taking in the typical atmosphere of the most beautiful towns of the old Continent.
The incomparable chimes of Big Ben welcome you to the heart of London. The gondolas and mandolins invite you to discover the charms of Venice. Follow the TGV high-speed train from Paris to the other end of France. You can make the models work yourself: the eruption of Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall, a bull-fight in Seville, the take off of the Ariane spaceship and many others. All in all, 350 models and sites with an unequalled level of craftsmanship. Visit also the European area, packed with interactive multimedia games and the exhibition.
Unavoidable icon of Brussels en Belgium, important place for international tourism, unique creation in the history of architecture and emblematic vestige of the World fair in Brussels, the Atomium is today the most popular tourist attraction of Europe’s Capital.
The Atomium was constructed for the first post-war universal world exhibition (EXPO 58) The nine spheres represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. They represent the faith one had in the power of science and moreover in nuclear power.
Due to the size of its permanent collections, the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille is considered to be the second largest general-interest museum in France, just after the Louvre. The building, completed between 1885 and 1892, is typical of the monumental architecture of the late 19th century.
Begun in 1453 by Philippe Le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, it is one of the rare reminders of the flamboyant gothic style in Lille. On the ground floor, the Salle des Gardes (Guards room) houses the tourist office.
Gentbrugse Meersen is a park and nature reserve that is still being created.
You can come here for sports, play, gardening and picnics. Take a walk in the woods and discover stretches of open water populated by water birds. A piece of wild nature close to the city.
The barefoot path is a 1-km long footpath that has not been laid artificially. It is a natural path which changes along with the weather and the seasons. A real treat for your feet!
The Lillois' favourite meeting place offers an interesting view of the architecture from the 17th to the 20th century. Standing in the centre of the squares stands the Goddess commemorates Lille's resistance to the Austrian siege in 1792
The over 10,000 different varieties of plants in the tropical and subtropical greenhouses of the University's Botanical Garden are both flourishing and fascinating.
The unique collection of Mediterranean plants alone is well worth a visit.
Guided visits can be arranged.
The strength of the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent, one of the oldest museums in Belgium, lies in the varied nature of its collection, which is nothing short of remarkable. Never before have old masters and modernists hung side-by-side so perfectly as in this iconic museum building.
At the end of the 18th century, Ghent was under French rule and many of the city’s art treasures were seized. Some of them can still be seen in the Louvre in Paris today. Rebellious Ghent wasn’t having any of it and slowly began to establish a wide-ranging art collection, searching for years to find an appropriate building. The ideal location was found in the building designed by the architect Van Rysselberghe in the Citadelpark, a museum with a fantastic feeling of spaciousness and a lot of light.
The collection, which ranges from Hieronymus Bosch to Rubens and Magritte, has never been shown more attractively than it is today. It covers an enormous variety of paintings, statues, drawings, etchings and tapestries, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. An auditorium, a library, a children’s workshop and a brasserie turn the MSK into a contemporary, multipurpose complex where you can spend many a pleasant hour surrounded by beauty during your weekend trip to Ghent. Why not take a virtual peek inside the MSK now?
Lovers of contemporary art absolutely can’t afford to miss a visit to the S.M.A.K. during their weekend in Ghent. The Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, or S.M.A.K. for short (in Dutch), was founded in 1999 and is located opposite the MSK in a former casino building.
The city of Ghent is known for its rebelliousness, and its contemporary art museum is every bit as dynamic and unconventional as Ghent itself. The collection is considered to be the most important collection of contemporary art in Flanders, with world-famous works of art from Belgium and abroad. Every four months, the museum exhibits a selection of these works in alternation with original, often daring exhibitions. Recover at leisure from the assault on your senses in the museum café.
Under the inspiring leadership of the controversial curator and ‘art pope’ Jan Hoet, the former ‘contemporary art wing’ of the MSK was given its own museum, the S.M.A.K. The permanent collection at this museum for contemporary art includes top Belgian and international works of art by Cobra, pop art, minimal art, conceptual art and arte povera artists, who are now among the most famous artists in the world.
The STAM is the ideal place to start your cultural holiday in Ghent, an unmistakeably contemporary building against a historic backdrop. Ghent is a city of every era, and the same applies to the modern Ghent City Museum: the 14th-century abbey, 17th-century convent and new 21st-century building all form part of the STAM.
The STAM tells the story of Ghent from the Middle Ages to the present day, with imaginative collections and interactive multimedia. The past, present and future of the city are presented in a clear and interesting way: from mediaeval metropolis to city of knowledge and culture.
The eye-catcher at Ghent City Museum, the STAM, is a gigantic aerial photograph of Ghent (measuring 300 m2!) that you are allowed to walk all over. Use the multimedia app to see Ghent in detail in four different centuries. ‘Views of Ghent’ shows a view of the city in 1534, maps from 1641 and 1912 and a contemporary aerial photograph.
Ghent’s ‘arts quarter’ is not only home to impressive historic buildings, but also to quiet green spaces, parks and gardens where you can fully recharge your batteries.
This magnificent sight on Sint-Baafsplein in Ghent is a proud old lady: don’t just walk past her on your city trip. St Bavo’s Cathedral is the oldest parish church in the lively heart of Ghent. It stands on the site of a 10th century church and a 12th century Romanesque church. The latter was dedicated to St John the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was a rich and powerful city that had the means to commission ever-larger and more opulent churches. So the Church of St John the Baptist was converted during the 15th and 16th centuries into the imposing Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral.
St Bavo’s Cathedral has a rich history and it is also filled with art treasures that make many an art-lover’s mouth water: from the baroque high altar in white, black and red flamed marble, the Rococo pulpit in oak, gilded wood and marble, to a masterpiece by Rubens: Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent, and the Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, the Gothic chandelier/sanctuary lamp, the opulent tombs of the Bishops of Ghent – and of course the world-famous Mystic Lamb.
Look up at the magical city skyline for a moment during your weekend trip in Ghent: you can’t miss it. The Belfry is the middle tower in the famous row of three, between St Bavo’s Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church. A fiery dragon, the proud symbol and mascot of Ghent, guards the historic heart of the city.
The Ghent Belfry symbolises the city’s prosperity and independence. The Cloth Hall, built onto the Belfry, was completed in 1907. The flamboyant Brabant Gothic style of the Cloth Hall is an ode to the industry to which Ghent owes so much. On the corner of the Cloth Hall is an old jailer’s house. Every Sunday morning you can hear the carillonneur at work between 11 am and 12 noon. And you can enjoy a carillon concert on the first Friday of each month from 8 to 9 pm. In the summer months, the concert takes place every Saturday night!
This church in Tournai bluestone is one of the most beautiful examples of the Scheldt Gothic style.
One of its unique elements is that the tower is not above the entrance but above the crossing of the nave and transepts. It functions as a sort of natural lantern as the light shines into the transept from the tower.
Wild about design? Be sure to visit the Design Museum Gent. A modern, open building lurks behind a magnificent 18th-century façade.
This impressive city residence in Rococo style was bought by the City of Ghent in 1922 and used it to house the Design Museum. The temporary exhibitions complement the magnificent permanent collection, from art nouveau to trends in contemporary design.
Even if you don’t need to go, the toilet enclosure at the museum is well worth a visit. The bathroom wing was built in defiance after Design Museum Gent kept being refused the funds for expansion by Ghent City Council. When it did get a permit for a huge monumental work of art, a huge toilet roll with toilets hidden inside it, a message was added with a double meaning: ‘de pot op’. Literally it means “go to the loo” but what the expression really means colloquially is “go to hell”, giving the figurative finger to Ghent City Council.
The House of Alijn museum in Ghent puts the ordinary daily life of 20th-century people in the spotlight. This was once the ‘Children of Alijn hospice’. It is the only almshouse—a charitable institution where the old and sick were cared for—to have been preserved in Ghent.
Traditions and rituals belong to the past and present. Daily routines and special events determine the rhythm of your life. During your weekend trip to Ghent, enjoy the customs, traditions and rituals at the House of Alijn museum that recall a recent or more distant past.
Go ‘Back to the future’: rediscover your very first baby photos, marbles in the playground, your first love, the excitement of the summer holidays... The way we approach ‘occasions and emotions’ changes over time: it is both personal and universal. Find out that everyday life is anything but ordinary.
Enjoy these collective memories in the lovely courtyard garden and a typical working-class pub. We recommend it!
A weekend trip to Ghent is simply not complete without a visit to the mysterious ‘Castle of the Counts’. This important sight in Ghent is a castle with a very turbulent past, closely intertwined with the complex—often stormy—political and social history of the city. It is the only remaining mediaeval castle with a moat and largely intact defence system in Flanders. Your visit to the Castle of the Counts will give you a complete picture of heraldic culture in the 12th century. The gatehouse, ramparts, keep, count’s residence and stables are open to visitors.
The Castle of the Counts boasts a unique collection of torture equipment. What used to be the pantry now features the torture equipment, which is displayed in a suggestive executioner's cabinet. The former courtroom features the collection of judicial objects. The Castle of the Counts also hosts all kinds of cultural activities, events and activities, for example during the Ghent Festivities. It is also a popular place to get married for Ghent’s locals.
Let’s not forget the time the Castle of the Counts was occupied by protesting students in 1949! Explore the castle during your weekend trip in Ghent and find out all about the ‘Battle of the Castle of the Counts’.