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Belgium

King Albert II of Belgium

 Posted by Germain Laroche
Germain Laroche
, July 06, 2014 at 17:36:18 :: Belgium

The Broodhuis (Breadhouse), or Maison du Roi (King's House), Grand Place central square of Brussels, BelgiumBelgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe.

Belgium is a constitutional, popular monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The bicameral federal parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives. The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 Community parliaments, 10 co-opted senators and the children of the king, as Senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote. The Chamber's 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts. Belgium has compulsory voting and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.

The King (currently Albert II) is the head of state, though with limited prerogatives. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government.

Albert II (born 6 June 1934) is the King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. He is a member of the royal house "of Belgium"; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He is the uncle of the current reigning Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Henri.

Albert's full name is Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie in French, Albert Felix Humbert Theodoor Christiaan Eugène Marie in Dutch, and Albert Felix Humbert Theodor Christian Eugen Maria in German.

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Brussels, Belgium

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, November 14, 2010 at 08:44:02 :: Belgium

Brussels (French: Bruxelles, pronounced [bʁysɛl]; Dutch: Brussel, pronounced [ˈbrʏsəl]), officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, Dutch: About this sound Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest), is the de facto capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium. It comprises 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels proper, which is the constitutional capital of Belgium, the seat of the French Community of Belgium and of the Flemish Community.

Manneken-pis ou Petit Julien, petite statue en bronze d'un petit garçon en train d'uriner, situé dans le quartier Saint-Jacques à Bruxelles, en Belgique


Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. The metropolitan area has a population of over 1.8 million, making it the largest in Belgium.

Since the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830, Brussels has transformed from being almost entirely Dutch-speaking, (Brabantian to be exact), to being a multilingual city with French (specifically Belgian French) as the majority language and lingua franca. This language shift, the Frenchification of Brussels, is rooted in the 18th century and accelerated after Belgium became independent and Brussels expanded past its original boundaries.

Not only is French-speaking immigration responsible for the Frenchification of Brussels, but more importantly the language change over several generations from Dutch to French was performed in Brussels by the Flemish people themselves. The main reason for this was the political, administrative and social pressure, partly based on the low social prestige of the Dutch language in Belgium at the time. From 1880 on, more and more Dutch-speaking people became bilingual, resulting in a rise of monolingual French-speakers after 1910. Halfway through the 20th century the number of monolingual French-speakers carried the day over the mostly bilingual Flemish inhabitants.

Only since the 1960s, after the fixation of the Belgian language border and the socio-economic development of Flanders was in full effect, could Dutch stem the tide of increasing French use. Through immigration, a further number of formerly Dutch-speaking municipalities in surrounding Flanders became majority French-speaking in the second half of the 20th century. This phenomenon is, together with the future of Brussels, one of the most controversial topics in all of Belgian politics.

Brussels Grand Place


Given its Dutch-speaking origins and the role that Brussels plays as the capital city in a bilingual country, Flemish political parties demand that the entire Brussels-Capital Region be fully bilingual, including its subdivisions and public services. They also demand that the contested Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde arrondissement will be separated from the Brussels region. However, the French-speaking population regards the language border as artificial and demands the extension of the bilingual region to at least all six municipalities with language facilities in the surroundings of Brussels. Flemish politicians have strongly rejected these proposals.

What will happen to Brussels now? Wait and see! :)

Meanwhile, visit Brussels and Belgium on Landolia.


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UNESCO World Heritage

Belgium, Major Mining Sites of Wallonia

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 06, 2013 at 06:42:09

Location Belgium
Coordinates N50 26 7 E3 50 18
Property 118 ha
Date of Inscription 2012

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1344 )

The four sites of the property form a strip 170 km long by 3–15 km wide, crossing Belgium from east to west, consisting of the best-preserved 19th- and 20th-century coal-mining sites of the country. It features examples of the utopian architecture from the early periods of the industrial era in Europe within a highly integrated, industrial and urban ensemble, notably the Grand-Hornu colliery and workers’ city designed by Bruno Renard in the first half of the 19th century. Bois-du-Luc includes numerous buildings erected from 1838 to 1909 and one of Europe’s oldest collieries dating back to the late 17th century. While Wallonia had hundreds of collieries, most have lost their infrastructure, while the four components of the listed site retain a high measure of integrity.

Photos from Landolia

Blegny-Mine, Major Mining Sites of Wallonia Bois du Cazier, Major Mining Sites of Wallonia Bois-du-Luc, Major Mining Sites of Wallonia
Grand Hornu, Major Mining Sites of Wallonia

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Belgium, Stoclet House

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 06, 2013 at 06:29:08

Location Brussels, Belgium
Coordinates N50 50 6 E4 24 58
Property 0.86 ha
Date of Inscription 2009

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1298 )

When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project. The house and garden were completed in 1911 and their austere geometry marked a turning point in Art Nouveau, foreshadowing Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. Stoclet House is one of the most accomplished and homogenous buildings of the Vienna Secession, and features works by Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt, embodying the aspiration of creating a ‘total work of art' (Gesamtkunstwerk). Bearing testimony to artistic renewal in European architecture, the house retains a high level of integrity, both externally and internally as it retains most of its original fixtures and furnishings.

Photos from Landolia

Stoclet Palace

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Belgium, Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 06, 2013 at 06:17:28

Location City of Antwerp, Flanders Region, Belgium
Coordinates N51 13 5.988 E4 23 52.008
Date of Inscription 2005

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1185 )

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing plant and publishing house dating from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Situated in Antwerp, one of the three leading cities of early European printing along with Paris and Venice, it is associated with the history of the invention and spread of typography. Its name refers to the greatest printer-publisher of the second half of the 16th century: Christophe Plantin (c. 1520–89). The monument is of outstanding architectural value. It contains exhaustive evidence of the life and work of what was the most prolific printing and publishing house in Europe in the late 16th century. The building of the company, which remained in activity until 1867, contains a large collection of old printing equipment, an extensive library, invaluable archives and works of art, among them a painting by Rubens.

Photos from Landolia

Plantin-Moretus Museum

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Belgium, Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 06, 2013 at 05:58:01

Location Province of Hainaut, Wallonia Region, Belgium
Coordinates N50 25 50.772 E3 58 43.644
Property 172 ha
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1006 )

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.

Photos from Landolia

Camp à Caillaux, Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes

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Belgium, Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 06, 2013 at 05:48:42

Location Brussels, Belgium
Coordinates N50 49 41.016 E4 21 44.028
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1005 )

The four major town houses - Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta - located in Brussels and designed by the architect Victor Horta, one of the earliest initiators of Art Nouveau, are some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterised by their open plan, the diffusion of light, and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building.

Photos from Landolia

Hôtel van Eetvelde Hôtel Solvay Hôtel Tassel

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Belgium, The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, September 04, 2013 at 14:10:38

Location Belgium
Coordinates N50 28 51.996 E4 8 13.992
Property 67 ha
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/856 )

The four hydraulic boat-lifts on this short stretch of the historic Canal du Centre are industrial monuments of the highest quality. Together with the canal itself and its associated structures, they constitute a remarkably well-preserved and complete example of a late-19th-century industrial landscape. Of the eight hydraulic boat-lifts built at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the only ones in the world which still exist in their original working condition are these four lifts on the Canal du Centre.

Photos from TWIP


Belgium, Flemish Béguinages

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, September 03, 2013 at 12:24:09

Location Flanders Region, Provinces of Antwerp, Limburg, Eastern Flanders, Western Flanders, and Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Coordinates N51 1 51.5 E4 28 25.5
Property 60 ha
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/855 )

The Béguines were women who dedicated their lives to God without retiring from the world. In the 13th century they founded the béguinages , enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs. The Flemish béguinages are architectural ensembles composed of houses, churches, ancillary buildings and green spaces, with a layout of either urban or rural origin and built in styles specific to the Flemish cultural region. They are a fascinating reminder of the tradition of the Béguines that developed in north-western Europe in the Middle Ages.

Photos from TWIP


Belgium, Flemish Béguinages

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, September 03, 2013 at 12:20:52

Location Flanders Region, Provinces of Antwerp, Limburg, Eastern Flanders, Western Flanders, and Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Coordinates N51 1 51.5 E4 28 25.5
Property 60 ha
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/855)

The Béguines were women who dedicated their lives to God without retiring from the world. In the 13th century they founded the béguinages , enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs. The Flemish béguinages are architectural ensembles composed of houses, churches, ancillary buildings and green spaces, with a layout of either urban or rural origin and built in styles specific to the Flemish cultural region. They are a fascinating reminder of the tradition of the Béguines that developed in north-western Europe in the Middle Ages.

Photos from TWIP


Belgium, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 30, 2009 at 17:15:53

Location Tournai, Province of Hainaut, Wallonia Region, Belgium
Coordinates N50 36 21.708 E3 23 21.336
Type Cultural
Property 0.50 ha
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1009 )

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.

Photos from Landolia

Our Lady of Flanders Cathedral

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Belgium, La Grand-Place, Brussels

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, June 03, 2009 at 12:31:55

Location City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Coordinates N50 50 48.1 E4 21 08.7
Type Cultural
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/857)

La Grand-Place in Brussels is a remarkably homogeneous body of public and private buildings, dating mainly from the late 17th century. The architecture provides a vivid illustration of the level of social and cultural life of the period in this important political and commercial centre.

Photos from TWIP

 

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Belgium, Historic Centre of Brugge

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, June 03, 2009 at 06:07:53

Location province of West Flanders, Flemish Region, Belgium
Coordinates 51°13′0″N 3°14′0″E
Type Cultural
Property 410 ha
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/996 )

Brugge is an outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries, and where original Gothic constructions form part of the town's identity. As one of the commercial and cultural capitals of Europe, Brugge developed cultural links to different parts of the world. It is closely associated with the school of Flemish Primitive painting.

Photos from Landolia

Belfry of Bruges, Historic Centre of Bruges

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