As I mentioned in my 30 before 30 post, I want to visit all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium. Now, several of my friends were interested in joining me, but most of them also don’t know what or where they are. I think pretty much everyone in Belgium has visited one or two of the heritage sites, most likely Bruges, Brussels Grand Place, a beguinage or a belfry. All beguinages in Belgium and all belfries in Belgium and France are on the list, as well as the whole centre or Bruges. But then the question is: what are the other sites?
There are 12 cultural sites and one natural site to be found in Belgium. Here’s the list from the official UNESCO website:
- Belfries of Belgium and France (1999,2005)
32 Belgian belfries were already added in 1999, 23 French and another Belgian one were added in 2005. Of the 33 belfries located in Belgium, I have visited only nine, so I have a lot of belfries to visit still!
- Visited: Dendermonde, Antwerpen (2), Mechelen (2), Brugge, Aalst, Gent, Sint-Truiden, Lier.
- To visit: Herentals,
Lier, Diksmuide, Kortrijk, Lo-Reninge (the only Flemish place on the list I’ve never heard of!), Menen, Nieuwpoort, Roeselare, Tielt, Veurne, Ieper, Eeklo, Oudenaarde, Tienen, Zoutleeuw, Tongeren, Binche, Charleroi, Bergen, Thuin, Doornik, Gembloers, Namen.
- Flemish Béguinages (1998)
A beguinage is kind of a small town for women who chose to dedicate their lives to God, without withdrawing from society. There are 13 such towns, of which I’ve been to two, possibly three of them.
- Visited: Dendermonde, Brugge.
- To visit: Hoogstraten, Lier, Mechelen, Turnhout, Sint-Truiden, Tongeren, Gent, Sint-Amandsberg, Diest, Leuven, Kortrijk. (as you can see, several of these are in the same cities/towns as the belfries, so easily combined)
- Historic Centre of Brugge (2000)
My favourite city (or town or village, depending on where you’re from) in Belgium, so I’ve been here often. It’s been quite a while now so I might visit again anyway. 😉
- La Grand-Place, Brussels (1998)
I’ve seen it so many times, but I can’t get enough of it! Especially when the sky is perfectly blue, damn! 😍
- Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (2012)
A pretty recent addition, which probably explains why I haven’t been to any of the four sites. Another reason is that they’re in Wallonia, and I barely ever go there (it’s the French-speaking part of Belgium).
- To visit: Grand Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, Bois du Cazier, Blegny-Mine.
- Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels) (2000)
I think I’ve seen all four of them, but never on the inside. Last Saturday, I was in Brussels and I actually passed by Hotel Solvay. The townhouses (hotels) are privately owned, and only the Maison & Atelier Horta is open to the public. Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll be open on Heritage Day in April.
- To visit (if possible): Hotel Solvay, Hotel Van Eetvelde, Hotel Tassel, Maison & Atelier Horta.
- Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) (2000)
I’ve never been interested in caves or mines, but since I’ve started learning more about Big History, my interest has been awakened. So hopefully it’ll be more interesting than my previous mine/cave visits.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai (2000)
I’m not entirely sure why this one is on the list, because it looks like just another church to me.
- Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex (2005)
A museum that has to do with printing presses and is of architectural value as well. I’ve been here a long time ago, must have been during a school trip, but I’d love to visit again. I think the exhibitions have undergone a transformation in the at least 15 years that have passed.
- Stoclet House (2009)
A house commissioned by a banker and art collector called Stoclet, designed and built by a leading architect of “the Vienna Secession movement”. Never heard of it! Looking at the pictures, I don’t think I’ll like it (it’s grey with green details), but I’ll visit anyway.
- The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)
These works are spread over seven countries, from Japan to Argentina. The construction in Belgium is called Maison Guiete and can be found in Antwerp. Another one I can probably only view from the outside.
- The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut) (1998)
I think this one has been on my ‘to go’ list in my mind for quite a while. I can’t remember why though, but I think I saw it on tv and there was something about it that was unique in the world. Better go and find out!
- Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007,2011,2017)
When I read this one, I was like whaaaat, I’ve never heard of this! (though I HAVE heard of the Carpathians, but not in connection with Belgium) It’s a forest stretching out over 12 countries, and it turns out the Belgian part is the Sonian Forest (Zonienwoud/Foret de Soignes), which everyone in Belgium has probably heard of. I’ve been wanting to visit this forest for a very long time, so I know where I’m going on a nice spring/summer day! ^_^
So, that’s the list. As you can see, there are many places my friends can accompany me to. 😉 How many of these have you visited? And which would you like to visit? I’ll be sure to update as soon as I’ve visited a few.
There’s a tentative list of 16 sites as well (which, for reasons unknown, is almost entirely written in French… -_- ), so let’s hope no new sites appear on the official list before I turn 30. 😛
Update: I’ve put the ones I visited after writing this post in green so as to see which ones are left.