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. http://www.visittournai.be/a-voir-a-faire/top-10/la-cathedrale/article/la-cathedrale-447?lang=fr
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! http://www.visittournai.be/a-voir-a-faire/top-10/grand-place/article/grand-place?lang=fr
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. http://www.visittournai.be/a-voir-a-faire/top-10/le-beffroi/article/nouvel-article-no-450?lang=fr
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. http://en.lilletourism.com/museum-lille/palais-des-beaux-arts-de-lille.html
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. http://en.lilletourism.com/historic-sites-and-monuments-lille/the-rihour-palace.html
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 http://en.lilletourism.com/la-grand-place.html
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. http://www.visitmons.co.uk/agenda/culture-is-here/partner-sites-and-museums/francois-duesberg-museum
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). https://www.visitmons.co.uk/see-do/attractions/st-waltrude-s-collegiate-church-537128
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. https://www.visitmons.co.uk/see-do/top-sights/10-top-reasons-to-fall-in-love-with-mons/unesco/the-belfry
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/ghent-university-botanical-garden
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/smak-contemporary-art-ghent
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? https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/museum-fine-arts-ghent
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/stam?from_category=3332&context=tourist
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! https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/gentbrugse-meersen
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/st-nicholas-church
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/st-bavos-cathedral-0?from_category=3332&context=tourist
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! https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/ghent-belfry-world-heritage
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. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/design-museum-gent-modern-meets-history
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’. https://visit.gent.be/en/castle-counts-0?from_category=3332&context=tourist
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! https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/house-alijn
Ghent is proud of its industrial past, and that makes the Museum of Industry a hotspot for many Ghent locals: a sight in Ghent that needs to be on your to-do list for your city trip.
Much of the industrial heritage that bore witness to the first and second industrial revolutions was scrapped and demolished from the 1970s onwards. Ghent City Council has made efforts to preserve machines and objects.
In the main exhibition “About people and machinery” the Museum of Industry tells the story of the industrial revolutions.
In addition, the museum features two other exhibitions. “Three centuries of graphic industry” will show you the evolution of the printing industry over the past 300 years. In “From cotton plant to finished product” you will discover how cotton is processed as well as the different weaving methods. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/museum-industry
The oldest mental asylum in Belgium, which dates back to 1857 is in Jozef Guislainstraat. Today it houses an absolutely fascinating museum.
It was the visionary Dr Guislain who was one of the first to think of mentally ill people as patients with a right to humane treatment. The shame that was felt at the way psychiatric patients had been treated in the past was the impetus for founding the Dr Guislain Museum in Ghent in 1986.
Dr Guislain Museum in Ghent aims to break down the many prejudices that still define what is ‘mentally ill’ and what is ‘normal’. Discover the permanent collection and find out about the history of psychiatry, as well as an international collection of outsider art or art brut. The temporary exhibitions are always great too. https://visit.gent.be/en/see-do/dr-guislain-museum
The 'Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde' with its white-coloured house fronts and tranquil convent garden was founded in 1245. This little piece of world heritage was once the home of the beguines, emancipated lay-women who nevertheless led a pious and celibate life. Today the beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried. In the Beguine's house, you can still get a good idea of what day-to-day life was like in the 17th century. https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/beguinage
The 115.5 metres high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady is a perfect illustration of the craftsmanship of Bruges’ artisans. The church displays a valuable art collection: Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings, 13th-century painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. Useful to know: at the moment, large-scale renovation works are still being carried out, so the church is only partially accessible and many works of art cannot be viewed. The choir was renovated in 2015 and the remarkable church interior can now once again be admired in all its splendour. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/onze-lieve-vrouwekerk-church-of-our-lady
The Groeninge Museum offers a varied overview of the history of Belgian plastic arts. Although the Flemish Primitives are a high point, you will also marvel at top 18th and 19th-century neoclassical pieces, masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and post-war modern art. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/groeningemuseum-groeninge-museum
A visit to Bruges isn’t complete without a boat trip on its canals. Go aboard at any of the five landing stages for a half-hour trip that allows you to appreciate the most noteworthy delights of the city from a completely different angle. March to mid-November: daily 10.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m. (last departure at 5.30 p.m.). https://www.visitbruges.be/en/bruggemetdeboot
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic basilica in Bruges. The church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.
The double church, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil in the 12th century and a basilica since 1923, consists of a lower church that has maintained its Romanesque character and a neo-Gothic upper church, in which the relic of the Holy Blood is preserved. The treasury, with numerous valuable works of art, is also worth a visit. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/basiliek-van-het-heilig-bloed-basilica-of-the-holy-blood
The most important of Bruges’ towers stands 83 metres tall. It houses, amongst other things, a carillon with 47 melodious bells. In the reception area, waiting visitors can discover all kinds of interesting information about the history and working of this unique world-heritage protected belfry. Those who take on the challenge of climbing the tower can pause for a breather on the way up in the old treasury, where the city’s charters, seal and public funds were kept during the Middle Ages, and also at the level of the impressive clock or in the carillonneur chamber. Finally, after a tiring 366 steps, your efforts will be rewarded with a breath-taking and unforgettable panoramic view of Bruges and her surroundings. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/belfort-belfry
Markt is the heart of the city and surrounded by many historical highlights. It is filled with pedestrians and bicyclists and a perfect place to get some rest or food in a local restaurant.
Markt is dominated by its Belfry, for centuries the city’s foremost edifice and the perfect look-out in case of war, fire or any other calamity. You can still climb to the top of the tower! The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck graces the middle of the square. These two popular heroes of Bruges resisted French oppression and consequently played an important part during the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. Their statue neatly looks out onto the Gothic revival style Provincial Palace. Until the 18th century this used to be the extremely busy Waterhalle, a covered warehouse where goods were loaded and unloaded along the canals that ran alongside the square. Today the canals are still there, albeit underground. https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/marketsquare
One of the best thing you can do in Bruges is to take a beautiful short walk along the ramparts with its windmills. It is nearby the city center, so after discovering shopping places, beers and coffees, this is a great opportunity to escape from the busy city life for a moment.
Belgium has a rich mill history. If you check a map of Bruges from the 16th century, you can see there were no less than 23 windmills here! They were part of the town walls since the end of 13th century. Nowadays, there are four remaining mills between the Dampoort and the Kruispoort: Koeleweimill, Nieuwe Papegaai, Sint-Janshuismill and Bonne Chiere. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/windmills-of-bruges
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. https://www.paysdecharleroi.be/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&cid=371:centre-de-conferences-congres-seminaires&id=985069:ch%C3%A2teau-de-trazegnies&Itemid=1251&lang=en
The half-hour carriage ride along Bruges’ historic winding streets trots off on Markt (at Burg on Wednesday morning). Halfway through the ride the carriage briefly stops at the Beguinage. The coachman gives expert commentary en route. https://www.visitbruges.be/en/bruges-by-horse-drawn-carriage-2
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. http://walloniabelgiumtourism.co.uk/en-gb/content/musee-de-la-foret-et-des-eaux-domaine-de-berinzenne
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. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Belgian-Chocolate-Village
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. https://visit.brussels/en/place/Museum-Horta
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. https://www.brussels.be/grand-place-brussels