Study Tour to Belgium

31 October to 6 November 2020

Itinerary


Saturday, 31 October

Pick up at London Embankment
Cross by Channel Tunnel
Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Tournai

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Tournai was built in the first half of the 12th century. It is especially distinguished by a Romanesque nave of extraordinary dimensions, a wealth of sculpture on its capitals and a transept topped by five towers, all precursors of the Gothic style.

The choir, rebuilt in the 13th century, is in the pure Gothic style.

Site of Childeric’s Grave

Tournai had already gained importance during the Roman period. In the 3rd century, St Piat converted the town to Christianity. Tournai came under the rule of the Salian Franks in the 5th century and this was followed by the Merovingian Dynasty. Clovis, who made Tournai a bishopric, was born here in 465 and Clovis’ father, Childeric, died here in 481 or 482.

Childeric’s grave was discovered by chance in 1653 in Tournai. Workmen discovered the grave behind the church of St-Brice. Subsequent work has established that a total of 22 horses were buried with the king.

Sunday, 1 November

Stadhuis, Leuven

Leuven’s Town Hall is one of the best-known Gothic town halls in the world. It took three architects and thirty years to build it.

Leuven’s ‘Hall of Fame’ features 236 statues, which were only added to the façade after 1850. There are 220 men and 16 women in total. On the bottom floor are famous Leuven scientists, artists and historical figures, dressed in Burgundian garb. The first floor is reserved for the patron saints of the various parishes of Leuven. Above them the façade is adorned by the counts and dukes of Brabant while the towers primarily feature biblical figures.

Groot Begijnhof, Leuven

The Groot Begijnhof is a well preserved beguinage and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen streets in the south of downtown Leuven. It is about 3 hectares in size, with some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, and is one of the largest remaining beguinages in the Low Countries. It stretches on both sides of the river Dijle, which splits into two canals inside the beguinage, thus forming an island. Three bridges connect the parts of the beguinage. The complete beguinage is owned by the University of Leuven and used as a campus, especially for housing academics.

Saint Peter’s Church, Leuven

Construction of the present Gothic Saint Peter’s church was begun approximately in 1425, and was continued for more than half a century. Its construction period overlapped with that of the Town Hall, and shared the same architects as its neighbor. Plans in the early sixteenth century called for the erection of three colossal towers surmounted by spires. One of the towers would have been the tallest building of its time. However, these plans had to be abandoned because of insufficient ground stability, and after partial collapses occurred.

Monday, 2 November

Begijnhof, Bruges

One enters the Begijnhof across the bridge from the north of Minnewaterpark. The Countess of Flounders founded the site in 1245. Most of the houses inside the complex are from the 17th and 18th centuries, although some are from as early as the 15th century.

Bruges – Tour of the old town

The Historic Centre of Brugge is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe.

Brugge in medieval times was known as a commercial metropolis in the heart of Europe.

The city reflects a considerable exchange of influences on the development of art and architecture, particularly in brick Gothic, which is characteristic of northern Europe and the Baltic. This architecture strongly determines the character of the historic centre of the city.

Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges

The Basilica of the Holy Blood houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders. Built between 1134 and 1157 as the chapel of the Count of Flanders, it was promoted to a minor basilica in 1923.

The basilica in Burg square consists of a lower and upper chapel. The lower chapel, dedicated to St. Basil the Great, is a dark Romanesque structure that remains virtually unchanged. The venerated relic is in the upper chapel, which was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 16th century and renovated in the 19th century in Gothic Revival style.

Tuesday, 3 November

Neolithic Flint Mines, Spiennes

The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes, covering more than 100 ha, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe. They are also remarkable for the diversity of technological solutions used for extraction and for the fact that they are directly linked to a settlement of the same period.

A new visitors’ centre was opened in 2015 (see photo).

Saint Waltrude Collegiate Church, Mons

The exterior of the church is a fine example of Brabant Gothic architecture, parts are built by Matheus de Layens. However in the 17th century the works stopped and the building was never completely finished. The interior contains important artworks, including sculptures by Jacques du Broeucq and paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Floris de Vriendt, Theodoor van Thulden, Otto Venius and Michiel Coxie.

Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude, Nivelles

The present building is an Ottonian Empire Romanesque abbey church which was consecrated in 1046 by the Bishop of Liège in the presence of Emperor Henri III.

The church was a “double-ender” with an east and a west apse, although the western apse is a modern replacement.

The late Romanesque narthex is a very imposing structure. It has five storeys accessible from the two stair turrets and contains an apse and two chapel galleries.

Wednesday, 4 November

La Maison des Megalithes

The House of Megaliths Museum illustrates the way of life of the first farming communities by way of displays, objects, models, reconstructions and an audiovisual presentation. Here in Wéris, a site unique in Belgium lived a Neolithic community some 5000 years ago. These people transported huge blocks of puddingstone rocks downhill to this plateau to build their dolmens (gallery graves) and menhirs (standing stones).

The Weris Megalithes

The megalithic remains at Wéris are scattered over region more than 5 miles (8 km) long, and form a group which is unique in Belgium. There are many standing stones (menhirs), including one beside the road just southwest of Wéris. Of the many chamber tombs (dolmens) which once existed in the area, two now survive in good condition. These remains generally date to around 3000 BC,[1] a time period which corresponds to that of the Seine-Oise-Marne culture.

The dolmens are made from slabs of conglomerate stone. A notable feature of the two dolmens is that the funerary chamber and the ante-chamber are separated by a stone slab pierced with a circular opening.

Tongeren

Tongeren is a city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg, in the southeastern corner of the Flemish region of Belgium. Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium, as the only Roman administrative capital within the country’s borders. As a Roman city, it was inhabited by the Tungri, and known as Atuatuca Tungrorum, it was the administrative centre of the Civitas Tungrorum district. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.

Gallo-Roman Museum, Tongeren

The Museum features a permenant exhibition showing the varied history of people in the Limburg region from prehistory to the late Roman period.

Thursday, 5 November

Saint Martin’s Basilica, Halle

The Saint Martin basilica comprises the chapel of Our Lady dating from 1335 and the main body of the church dating from 1409.

It contains a 13th century statue of a black Madonna.

Espace Gallo-Roman, Ath

The museum displays remarkable well-preserved ships from the Roman era, which were found in Pommeroeul with rich archaeological findings.

Most of the museum’s collection originate from the vicus (town) of Pommeroeul, a small town enjoying a special position as the meeting point of a road (Bavay-Blicquy) and a river (the Haine).

Abbaye de Villiers

The ruins of Villers Abbey form an excellent example how the Cistercian Monks lived.

The abbey, which was started in 1146, is considered one of the most complete in Europe as it features remains of all the buildings used in daily life.

Friday, 6 November

Leave Leuven
Chateau des Comtes, Gent

In c. 940 Baldwin II built a stone castrum on the site of the present Château des Comtes.

The origin of the present Château des Comtes goes back to 1180 when Philip of Alsace, the Count of Flanders, rebuilt the 10th century fortification. The site was extensively restored during the early 20th century.

Cross by Channel Tunnel
Arrive London Embankment

Click here for further details