Jetsetting, UNESCO

Exploring Belgium | Culture, Art and UNESCO Sites

The country of Belgium is home to glorious architecture and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When I visited Belgium, I managed to visit three UNESCO sites and various places of culture that held numerous notable works of art.  If art, culture and UNESCO sites interest you, I hope my ‘Exploring Belgium’ list inspires you to visit this remarkable country!

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Jan Fabre Sculpture – Antwerp

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La Grand-Place in Brussels – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Grand Place located in the center of Brussels is surrounded by many eloquent buildings of importance. Once you walk into La Grand-Place from any enterance it is the ultimate ‘WOW’ experience. Every distinguished structure from the Town Hall to the buildings that house the tourist restaurants, have an air of elegance. La Grand-Place dates back to the 17th Century and is a solid reminder of the wealth in Brussels from centuries ago.

To make your time more memorable in La Grand – Place, visit the City Museum or relax at one of the cafes. There are wonderful stores and sweet shops that are behind the square as well. Mary Chocolate and Maison Dandoy (Oldest biscuit/ cookie shop) are located behind the square.

👩🏻‍💻 For more restaurant information, please visit my blog → What I ate in BRUSSELS – A Food Journal

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Manneken-Pis in Brussels

You cannot go to Brussels without visiting the little boy peeing into a fountain. He has been around since the 1600s and is Brussels oldest citizen! Actually the original is inside the Belgium City Museum, this little boy is a replica which dates backs to 1965. Several times a year, he is dressed in costume and if you google the costumes they are hilarious! As you see, when I went to Brussels he was not in costume but I would love to go back when he is dressed up.

As I was looking for the statue, I decided not look at my maps app and thought “Oh, he is right down this street”. Sure enough he was! Past life maybe?

For those who need the address, Manneken-Pis is a five minute walk from La Grand – Place and can be found at: 46 Rue de l’Etuve corner of rue du Chene and rue de l’Etuve, Brussels 1000 Belgium.

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Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp – UNESCO World Heritage Site (Belfries)

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) was a labor of Belgium love. It took nearly 170 years to complete when it was consecrated in 1521. The belfry of Our Lady is noted in the grouping of ‘Belfries of Belgium and France’ UNESCO’s list. Belfies were integral to Middle Age societies as they represented the heart of the city and housed communal bells. The belfry at the Cathedral of Our Lady is one of the greatest!

This was an exquisite cathedral in the center of Antwerp and well preserved. Although this was the first cathedral that I have been to where the whole church was surrounded with cafes and shops. I mean literally surrounded that if you did not look up to see the belfry, you would not realize it was behind an Italian restaurant. The front of the cathedral is not covered so if you come in from that side, you will have no trouble finding it.

Artwork within Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Within Our Lady, you will find many notable works of art. There are several religious paintings by Peter Paul Rubens including the Ascension which dominates the altar. If you enjoy stain glass, there are several grand windows that date back to the 1800s within the church.

For my Yelp Review – Read Trixie N.‘s review of De Kathedraal on Yelp

For location and church information, please visit their website- The Cathedral of our Lady

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Hans Memling and Sint-Janshospitaal

Approximately built in 1150 as a hospital, Sint-Janshospital or Old Saint John’s Hospital is considered one of Europe’s oldest healthcare facilities. In later centuries it had become a monastery and convent with an additional hospital wing. In the late 1970’s Saint John’s stopped working as a hospital and eventually became a museum filled with medical artifacts and art works.

Inside the old hospital is where you can view extraordinary works of art by Hans Memling including his three panel St. Johns Altar piece and my favorite, his painted Ursula Shrine. Take a special trip up to the attic which is impressive, as it is the oldest timber (oak) trussed roof in the Brenlux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) region.

For my complete Yelp Review – Read Trixie N.‘s review of Sint-Janshospitaal on Yelp

👩🏻‍💻 → A Day in Bruges, Belgium – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Groeningemuseum in Brugge

“Can you imagine what it would have been like to be walking around with your tits hanging out all day?” Is what I heard from another American while looking at a five hundred year old masterpiece. I almost died in a stifled laughter. Ah Americans, we are so funny sometimes.

On to the artwork, inside the Groeningemuseum is an outstanding collection that spans six centuries- from early Flemish artists to Modern Day works. The museum is in chronological order with the earliest artwork at the beginning, to the most recent towards the end. If you are wanting to view the progression of Flemish-Belgium Artists, this museum is worth the visit. I grew very fond of this place and would love to visit it again.

For museum information and location, please visit- Groeningemusuem 

👩🏻‍💻 → A Day in Bruges, Belgium – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Michelangelo and the Church of Our Lady, Brugge

Dating back to the 13th Century, this remarkable Gothic style Cathedral is an architectural beauty! The brick tower is the largest structure in the Old City and is the second largest in the world. As with typical Gothic Cathedrals, flying buttresses flank the sides for support. The interior is exquisite with natural light flooding through the large stained glass windows. The black and white tile floors, white walls, rich wood furnishings and the beautiful artworks create a classic elegance of centuries gone by.

The main reason behind my visitation to this cathedral is within the scaffolding (See photo below). Within the protective scaffolds lies the only Michelangelo sculpture, “Madonna and Child”, that left Italy during his lifetime. The Madonna was stolen during WWII by the Germans who smuggled her in a Red Cross Vehicle wedged in-between mattresses. She was later found in a salt mine in Austria and returned a year after being stolen. The Madonna and Child have remained safe inside Our Lady’s Church in Brugge for decades . She is magnificent, has quite a history and worth the visit while you are touring the city.

👩🏻‍💻 → A Day in Bruges, Belgium – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Buying From Local Designers and Artists

There are plenty of great boutiques and stores that surround La Grand – Place that sell items from local designers. Whenever and wherever I travel, one of my favorite things to purchase are accessories and jewelry made by local artists and designers. It helps support local artists which I believe in. Plus it becomes a conversational piece when friends back home compliment your stylish adornments!

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My new Belgium designer ‘KOMONO’ shades from Concept Store, Appart No 17 , in Brussels.

I hope you enjoy the culture and art rich cities throughout Belgium- I know that I did!

                                                                    XOXO – Trix

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property- Trixie Navarre

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