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Belgium - Treasures - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Belgium, from medieval relics to Art treasures and Industrial revolution legacy. The country is full of surprises, geological marvels, artefacts, historical ruins, traditions, rituals inherited from ancestors and much more. Since 2003, UNESCO has kept a register of intangible cultural heritage and again Belgium impresses with its folklore and culinary traditions.

The mining sites of Grand Hornu, Bois-du-Lac and Bois du Casier, Blegny are an ideal opportunity to learn more about the history of Wallonia and the mines’ Influence on its communities today. As mining activity declined during the last century, many mines were closed or turned into museums. Four mines are located in the ‘Industrial valley’ of the region and give an insight into coal mining and it’s technical and social heritage.

More than 30 historic belfries can be found in Belgium. Associated with democracy and civil liberties, belfries were originally known as belfrei meaning ‘protect the peace’ in old French. English speakers of the time thought it described the bells enclosed in the towers and the name changed accordingly. Belfries marked the change from the feudal system to a more democratic one, when the communal bell tolled to ring out signals to the townsfolk. Built between the 11th and 17th centuries, they take in Roman, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture. Ghent boasts the tallest belfry in Belgium.

Four town houses were selected for representing the highest expression of the Art Nouveau style and for being pioneering works of architecture. All located in Brussels, their style is based on curved lines and diffusion of light.

We don’t always associate Belgium with great waterways but during the Industrial Revolution they played an important role. Canals and rivers were often used to due to the difficulty in transporting coal from the Charleroi area to different parts of the country by road. However, differences in water depth along the canal meant that modifications were needed, and lifts, rather than locks, were constructed.

These hydraulic boat lifts on the Canal du Centre are still in their original working condition and are an interesting opportunity to discover the canals of Wallonia.

An ancient tradition once carried out along the coast of Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France, shrimp fishing has all but died out with the exception of Oostuidenkerke. There, horses and their riders enter the water, pulling nets to catch shrimp. Fishing takes place at low tide and nowadays mostly in the summer months. A two-day shrimp festival is held every year on the last weekend in June, when locals make floats and costumes for the parade and there is a children’s initiation to fishing. The experienced fishermen pass on their knowledge to younger shrimpers and so the custom travels from one generation to the next.

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