Belgium

January 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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A couple of times over the last few years I’ve been to Belgium, here’s a quick overview:

Antwerp

  • Het Steen Castle – picturesque castle on the waterfront no museum associated with it but a great landmark
  • Cathedral of our lady– the usual impressive cathedral interiors
  • Town hall / city square – walk around and enjoy the ambience (not to mention the wall of flags on the town hall)
  • MAS – Skyscraper of art, go through the various levels and end up on the rooftop for some great views (note there is an English guide that you use to scan QR codes and in 2012 some of them wouldn’t work because of positioning and shadow but on the most part good)
  • Prints room – how did manuscripts get printed before modern printers? Come here to find out!
  • Sounds of the city – Museum looking at musical instruments. Very little in English but for someone not that fussed about music just taking a walk around and listening to various samples was enough.
  • Rubens House – Not sure if I came here or not, either way looks like you might want to!

Brussels 

  • Royal army and military history museum – located next to the art museum on a spacious park, not a lot of English but plenty of items like tanks and planes to check out. Quite a lot of floor space to walk through.
  • Art and history museum – fascinating and large museum with plenty of artefacts so be prepared to take some time to go through it
  • Palace – During set periods you can check out the palace and its array of opulent rooms
  • BELVUE – learn about the history of Belgium in this short but informative museum
  • Belgian Comic Book Centre – like comic books? Then this is the place to go for Tintin, Asterix and so many more.
  • Parlamentarium – Want to learn about how democracy and the legislative process in Europe then come here. It’s very modern with some great interactive exhibits, which took longer than I anticipated to go through.
  • Pis statues – Mannekin is the city’s famous statue, I honestly don’t know what I was expecting but at the end of the day it’s literally a small statue peeing. That’s it. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Meanwhile the more recent Jeanneke (the female version) is behind bars. Lastly, apparently there’s also Zinneke (a dog) somewhere but I didn’t know about it.
  • Christmas market – spread throughout the city but lots of stalls and options to get food and drink

Bruges

  • Basilica of the Holy Blood – small church with a relic that allegedly has some of Jesus’ blood
  • Friet Museum – Fries, fries and more fries (and the history of them)
  • Choco Story Museum – learn about the history of chocolate. Not as fancy as the one in Cologne but by the same token it’s smaller so faster to go through
  • Grote Markt and Belfry – go up the famous belfry and look out over the city. The security mesh at the windows at the top does diminish the view a bit though.
  • City Hall – has a historic meeting hall that you can look at and a small museum beside it, there’s another museum your ticket gets you into that’s tiny and doesn’t have any English
  • Walk around the historic and charming city centre and buy chocolate!

Ghent

  • Belfry – another belfry with a great view over the city, I preferred this over Bruges because it was less crowded and offered open air views without security mesh (and an elevator if you don’t want to take the stairs)
  • Castle of the Counts – cool castle complex, take the opportunity to walk around and explore
  • The house of Alijn – a former almshouse and it now showcases the everyday lives of people over the 20th century
  • St Nicolas’ Church – large interior but nothing amazing inside
  • Most importantly walk around, see the old city and buildings (including numerous churches) and don’t forget to walk over the bridges on the river. The station is further away so you may need other transport and it’s larger than Bruges with things more spread out but I think I prefer it to Bruges.

Food wise on my latest trip these three places stood out:

As with so many other places I may have forgotten things but let’s hope not.

Photos at Flickr (2012; Antwerp and Brussels) and (2013).

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