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Archive for belgium

A Beacon to Belgium

By Linda Tancs

Better than a visitor center, the Hoeke windmill off Highway N49 in Damme beckons tourists to Belgium. One of only a few windmills in Flanders, it’s a protected monument. Reportedly a mill has existed on the site since the 1300s; the current mill was built in the 1800s and still grinds grain today. It’s open to the public every Sunday.

Wild Countryside in Belgium

By Linda Tancs

The Ardennes is a region of unspoiled nature that spans Belgium, France and Luxembourg. In southeastern Belgium, the Ardennes sports a matrix of fairy-tale castles, many dating back to the Middle Ages. One of the largest is Walzin Castle, perched on a cliff nearly 165 feet high. It overlooks the Lesse River, a popular spot for kayaking. In fact, kayaking is the best way to view this imposing 11th-century castle. Take some time to walk or hike the nature reserves and prehistoric caverns dotting the area.

The Blue Forest

By Linda Tancs

There’s good reason why Belgium’s Hallerbos is called “the blue forest.” Around mid-April the bluebells bloom, turning the entire forest floor into a sea of purple-blue wonder. You’ll find two marked trails: the Achtdreven (in the middle of the bluebell area) and the roebuck walk, more than half of which passes through the blooms. Just south of Brussels, the forest is located predominately in Halle.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

MUM in Binche

By Linda Tancs

Think of all the carnivals in the world and the masks traditionally associated with them, sometimes accompanied by parades, flamboyant costumes or all-night parties. Maybe Venice or Rio comes to mind. If you can’t possibly attend them, don’t despair. You can experience many of them at the International Museum of Carnival and Mask (MÜM) in Binche, Belgium. A permanent exhibition there journeys across the continents, exploring the European winter festivals, the ceremonies of North America and Latin America, customs of Africa and traditions of Asia and Oceania.

Contemplating Bruges

By Linda Tancs

The Beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges is the only preserved beguinage (a complex created to house beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world). Dating to the 13th century, it’s one of the city’s best-known landmarks, comprising a collection of white-painted houses, a chapel and various buildings. Now occupied by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict, the park-like ambience (which does include an actual park populated with swans and poplar trees) provides a tranquil resting spot for locals and tourists.

A Village’s Best Friend

By Linda Tancs

A best friend sees you through thick and thin. That’s pretty much what a 400-year-old lime tree in Messemen, Belgium, has done. The village’s beloved, fragrant lime tree witnessed the church fire of 1645, the village’s inauguration as a principality in 1650 and the defeat of French invaders in 1798. Its gnarled trunk only adds to its charm, making it the subject of many paintings.

Dining in the Sky

By Linda Tancs

Once upon a time only an airline meal would’ve qualified as sky dining. Nowadays you can eliminate the fuselage and dine at table while suspended in the air by a massive crane. That’s the concept behind Dinner in the Sky, a vertigo-inducing gastronomic adventure originating in Belgium. Available now in more than 40 countries, this flying dinner party has made its way to locales including the Las Vegas Strip, the marina of Dubai, the banks of the St. Lawrence River and the beach of Copacabana. These unique events have featured iconic chefs like Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Veyrat, Heston Blumenthal and Paco Roncero. Will you send your taste buds to new heights?

Meatballs and Fries

By Linda Tancs

An important political center in medieval Europe, Liège is a historic Belgian city on the Meuse River. It abounds with puppets, feasts and legends—as well as an ample supply of meatballs and fries (boulets à la liégeoise). The most traditional dish from the region, it comprises meatballs prepared with pork and beef along with fries and a sweet sauce (a mixture of pears and apple syrup, wine, onions and a local gin). Spend Sunday like a native and have a platter after visiting La Batte, a Sunday institution (the largest and oldest market in Belgium) stretching over a mile with colorful stalls offering fruit, cheeses, clothes, flowers and local products.

A Grand Procession in Brussels

By Linda Tancs

Today is the first of two annual summer processions in Brussels. Known as the Ommegang (procession), it’s a medieval procession begun in 1549 as a celebration of the entry of Charles V and his court into Brussels, where the monarch resided most of the time and wielded much of his power over a mighty empire. The processional route, replete with hundreds of costumed performers, begins at Parc de Bruxelles and ends at Grand Place. Access to the route is free, but tickets are required for the performance at Grand Place. The Ommegang takes place a second time on 2 July.

The Glass City

By Linda Tancs

In the 19th century, architect Alphonse Balat designed a complex of greenhouses for Belgian King Leopold II to complement the castle of Laeken.  Known as the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, the sweeping collection of rotundas, cupolas and galleries comprising metal and glass resembles a glass city.  Some of the king’s original plant collections still exist, surrounded by rare and valuable plants meticulously labeled.  Continuing a century-old tradition of opening the luxurious collection to public view for a limited time, this year’s opening–punctuated by blooming azaleas–began on 17 April and continues until 8 May.

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