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Archive for belgium

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.

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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.

The Most Stolen Artwork in the World

By Linda Tancs

The world’s first major oil painting is Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.  Also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, it’s a 15th century early Flemish polyptych panel painting of the history of Christianity located at St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.  It’s also one of the most stolen pieces of artwork in the world, having been sold various times and looted during both world wars.  In fact, eight of the looted panels were returned to Belgium after World War II thanks to the efforts of the Monuments Men.  Of its twelve panels, only one–the Just Judges–remains lost from an unsolved heist in 1934.  A copy by the Belgian painter and restorer Jef Van der Veken takes its place.

The History of Photography

By Linda Tancs

Photojournalist Dorothea Lange once remarked that a camera is a tool for learning.  That’s certainly the goal at the Museum of Photography in Charleroi, Belgium.  Touted as the largest photography museum in Europe, the facility’s learning tools include a discovery trail, digital laboratory, darkroom and mobile studio.  Housed in a former Carmelite monastery, the museum is home to 80,000 prints and three million negatives representing the entire history of photography from the 19th century to the present day.  The collection is spread across the renovated monastery and a newer contemporary wing.

The 2015 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Welcome to a new year and two new European Union capitals of culture:  Mons in Belgium and Pilsen in the Czech Republic.  The major exhibitions in Mons feature Van Gogh’s emergence as an artist in the Borinage, the poetic metamorphosis of Paul Verlaine, and the Battle of Lumecon in the main square where St. George slays the dragon.  The opening ceremony for Mons 2015 will be held on 24 January.  Like Mons, Pilsen will promote great personalities associated with the city, like Jiří Trnka (the Walt Disney of the East), Ladislav Sutnar (a pioneer in information graphics) and the architecture of Adolf Loos.  The festivities officially launch in Pilsen on 17 January.

The Belgian Coast Tram

By Linda Tancs

Belgium’s Kusttram (Coast Tram) is the longest single-path tram line in the world, gliding between De Panne and Knokke on the Flemish coast.  It’s convenient (a connection every 20 minutes), which means that you have no excuse not to explore the many holiday romps along its 43-mile trek.  Did you know that Knokke was a favorite among the Hollywood elite like Frank Sinatra and Marlene Dietrich?

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