5 Wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders

If we include Brussels as a part of Flanders, there are no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. I’ve visited five of them so far. (I plan to visit the rest over the course of this coming summer.)

5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders

Grand-Place in Brussels

The Grand-Place is the heart of Brussels, capital of Belgium, and arguably one of the most stunning urban squares on the planet. This marvelous square is surrounded by Baroque and Gothic gold-leaf guild houses, the Breadhouse, which houses the Brussels City Museum, and the gorgeous Town Hall. It’s the best place to start exploring the city, either by car or on foot, and the best place to relax afterwards, in one of the many restaurants and cafés that line it.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders: Grand-Place in Brussels
Town Hall on the Grand-Place, Brussels

Flemish Béguinages

With a handful of exceptions in the Netherlands, France and England, the vast majority of béguinages in the world are found in Flanders. A social system invented several centuries ago, a béguinage used to be a separate community of single women – women whose spouses died in war, unmarried women and religious women. The community was essentially self-sufficient and provided almost completely independent lives to those women, something that was pretty much unique in Europe until very recently. Nowadays, there are seventeen béguinages left in Flanders, all of them part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as ‘Flemish Béguinages’.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders: Béguinage in Lier
Béguinage in Lier

Historic City Center of Bruges

Bruges, as a remarkably well-preserved medieval city, deserves its place on the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. The entire city center looks like it could come straight out of a fairy tale, consisting of the most picturesque canals, crow-step-gabled row houses, impressive churches and a towering belfry. It’s a breathtaking city and should be on any travel itinerary in Western Europe.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders: Historic Center of Bruges
Historic Center of Bruges

Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta

Four of Victor Horta’s town houses in Brussels were declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000 – Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel van Eetvelde, Hôtel Solvay and Maison & Atelier Horta. Victor Horta, a Brussels resident, was one of the first influential Art Nouveau architects and was a pioneer of the architectural style that emerged in the late 19th century. The four beautiful houses are found in the historic center of Brussels.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders: Town House by Victor Horta
Town House by Victor Horta

Belfries of Belgium and France

Belfries are towers typical to the Western European region that comprises northern France, Belgium and the southern Netherlands. The UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Belfries of Belgium and France’ includes all belfries in Belgium and northern France. In Flanders alone, there are 25 belfries that are considered world heritage. Although they’re only one World Heritage Site, those belfries are dotted across the region, found in 25 different cities. The most spectacular ones can be seen in Bruges, Aalst, Ypres, Mechelen and Antwerp.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Flanders: Belfry in Aalst
Belfry in Aalst

About Bram

Website: http://www.travel-experience-live.com

Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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