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Archive for belgium

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.

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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.

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.

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