The 15 best places to visit in Belgium

 

In the east of the country, south from the city of Liege in Hauster Park, Chaudfontaine, is La Pince à Linge, better known as the Clothespin. Created by Turkish sculptor Mehmet Ali Uysal to show how the Earth hurts like us when we are pinched, the giant clothespin stands 6 metres (20 ft) high.

15. La Pince à Linge

 

Completed in 1826 AD to the south of the capital, Brussels, to commemorate the location where William II of Netherlands was knocked from his horse during battle is the Lion Of Waterloo. Climbing the 226 steps to the top of the mound, visitors will find the 31 ton, 4.5 metre (14.5 ft) tall lion statue.

14. Butte Du Lion

 

First built in the 13th century, south from the city of Dinant in the Ardennes Forest is the Walzin Castle, which would later be burnt down by the French army in 1554 AD. What stands today is a 15th century Renaissance fortress in wonderful natural surroundings, precariously perched on a sheer cliff edge over the river Lesse.

13. Château De Walzin

 

Built around the 12th century after the Viking incursions of the middle ages, in the city of Antwerp is the Het Steen, a name that means 'Stone Castle'. This wonderful medieval fortress in the old city centre is the oldest building in Antwerp as well as the most striking and historically important.

12. Het Steen

 

In the extreme north west of the country close to the border with France is the city of Veurne, renowned for its beautiful market square, adorned by several Renaissance styled buildings using the local light coloured bricks. Among the most important structures is the church of Saint Walburga, an example of the early Gothic architecture, the church of Saint Nicolas, the Spanish Pavilion and the old meat market. The Landhuis, or city hall and belfry have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11. Veurne

 

South west from the capital, Brussels, is the city of Mons, the capital of Hainaut province most well known for its 17th century belfry. Also known as El Catiau, this huge baroque style tower stands 87 metres (285 ft) high, towering above even the enormous Gothic styled Mons Town Hall in the pretty main square. The belfry of Mons has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Mons

 

In the east of the country, south west from the city of Liege is the city of Durbuy, often presented and promoted as 'The Smallest City Of The World'. In a region covered by forest and meadows, at the heart of a thousand years of history, the 17th century old medieval city is a place of cobbled streets among old stone buildings. Quaint and enchanting, Durbuy is a hidden gem of eastern Belgium.

9. Durbuy

 

East from the French city of Lille, just over the border into Belgium is the city of Tournai, home to the famous Tournai Cathedral. Completed in 1700 AD, it is a five towered Gothic and Romanesque cathedral believed to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Visitors should also seek out the 72 metre (236 ft) high town belfry, the oldest bell tower in the country it offers visitors 257 steps to the most remarkable views in the city of Tournai. The bell tower along with the Notre Dame De Tournai have been inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites

8. Tournai

 

Almost directly between the city of Antwerp and the Belgian capital, Brussels, is the small city of Mechelen, a place often missed by visitors heading to either of the countries larger and more well known cities. Towering above the beautiful townhouses that line the cities pretty main square is the enormous St. Rumbolds Cathedral, completed in 1520 AD this French Gothic church is one of the most imposing and impressive in the country. From the top of the 97 metre (318 ft) tower it offers visitors the best views over the town, and on a clear day it is even possible to see both Brussels and Antwerp. St. Rumbold's Cathedral has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Mechelen

 

Directly north from the capital, Brussels, is the city of Antwerp, the most populated city in Belgium and home to one of the worlds largest sea ports. It was during the 16th century when Antwerp became noted for its wealth, building richly detailed and decorative buildings that despite several fires and the bombings in World War II have been preserved throughout the city. Notable landmarks include Antwerp City Hall, a beautiful Renaissance masterpiece dating from 1565 AD, the majestic 14th century Cathedral of Our Lady with both Baroque and Gothic architectural styling and the 16th century Guildhouses at the Grote Markt, a set of tall intricately detailed merchant houses that have become the symbol of the city.

 

Pictured are the 16th century Guildhouses, the statue of Brabo and the giant's hand.

6. Antwerp

 

Directly east from the capital, Brussels, is the city of Leuven, a lively city thanks to the large number of students that attend the oldest Catholic university in the world. Boasting sites such as the The Belfry on St. Peter’s Church and the Grand Beguinage, the most notable landmark of the city is the Leuven Town Hall, found in the main square. Built in 1460 AD in a Gothic style it is an incredible architectural masterpiece, famous for its ornate architecture, crafted with sublime detail. Visitors should be sure to make the trip down to the square at night when the building is decoratively lit up.

Visitors seeking an oddity should head to Ladeuzeplein Square. Dominating the square is the historical library of the university, and standing in front of the library is the Totem - a 23 metre (75 ft) high needle with a green beetle skewered onto it. A renowned artist was asked to design a fitting sculpture and gift it to the city, and well - that's artists for you...

5. Leuven

Between Bruges and the capital, Brussels, is the city of Ghent, one of the richest and most powerful cities of the middle ages, with the impact of this rich history still clearly visible today. Standing on St. Michael's Bridge allows visitors the chance to view the Graslei and Korenlei, as well as Saint Michael's Church, the three tower row and the rich trader houses that line the canal, an impressive scene that can only be viewed in its entirety from this location. Close to the bridge is the 12th century Gravensteen, also known as the Castle Of The Counts, one of the oldest buildings in this city of history. Though Ghent will often be described as Belgium’s best kept secret, it would appear that the secret is out.

4. Ghent

 

In the south of the country, within the Ardennes Forest is the picture postcard city of Dinant, built within a valley carved by the Meuse River. Famed for its 11th century cliff top citadel, small houses and shop fronts dotted along the river bank, the cities most striking structure is the unmissable and enormous 13th century Collegiate Church of Notre Dame De Dinant. Still remarkable after being partially rebuilt post a massive landslide, it remains one of the most unique and superb Gothic style churches in the country.

3. Dinant

 

In what could almost pass for the centre of the country sits the Belgian capital, Brussels, which because of the headquarters of many European institutions might also be considered something of a capital for the European Union. Home to some incredibly historical buildings of flamboyant architecture, Brussels is undoubtedly one of the most visited capitals in Europe. Visitors usually get lost around the large market square known as Grand Place, filled with terrace cafes, pubs, theatres and Belgian chocolate shops among the ornate Gothic structures.

 

With so much on offer, click here for the Must See Places In Brussels...

2. Brussels

 

In the north west of the country, close to the border with the Netherlands is the city of Bruges, noted for its pretty canals it is probably the most famous of many cities to hold the nickname 'Europe’s Venice of the North'. With most of its medieval architecture intact, it is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe, with many notable medieval buildings including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 115.6 metre (379 ft) high, making it the world's second highest brick building. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be the only of Michelangelo's sculptures to have left Italy within his lifetime. Within the beautiful market square of coloured merchant houses is Bruges most famous landmark, the 13th century belfty housing a municipal carillon comprising 47 bells. Considered one of the Europe's most beautiful cities, unsurprisingly the historic centre of Bruges has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Pictured from one of the finest spots in the city, with the Djiver Mansions on the corner and the Belfry of Bruges in the background.

1. Bruges

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