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UNESCO sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Belgium is a major contributor to the extra-budgetary funds of UNESCO. Belgium joined UNESCO on November 29, 1946. There are currently two French-speaking UNESCO Chairs in the country. The first, set up in 1995 at the University of Mons-Hainaut specializes in linguistics and didactics of languages in educational systems. The second which dates from 2002, is a UNESCO Chair in academic pedagogy, at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL). Thirteen Belgian sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia, Belgium

Grand-Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, the Bois du Cazier and Blegny-Mine now feature, as a collective whole, on the prestigious list alongside other previously-recognized Walloon treasures. The four sites offer an insight into all aspects of mining heritage: expertise, landscape, remembrance, social and architecture. They also illustrate the intense migration flows that the Walloon collieries experienced.

Hydraulic lifts, in the past, each of these four elevators were built in order to bridge a height difference of 55 feet, and this with only one energy source: water!

With its ornate baroque and gothic guild houses, it is  often considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Built as a merchants market in the 13th century it serves as the center of the city and is a great place to experience Belgian hospitality at one of the many terrace cafes dotting the charming square.

Major Town Houses of Architect Victor Horta Brussels

Victor Horta was an architect and one of the foremost creators of the Art Nouveau style. The Horta Museum was the Private house of Victor Horta, who gave free rein to its style. To be seen: the central stairs as central axe of the building, the decorative undulating motifs, plans pictures and models.

The Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)

Spiennes is the center of prehistoric civilization in Europe (from the Paleolithic Age to the Iron Age), where ancient neolithic mines were brought up to date. Today, the site makes part of development project that will create a discovery center.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Tournai

Tournai cathedral is one of the most beautiful religious monuments in the Western world. The present building belongs to two different styles: Romanesque and Gothic. The nave and the transept, in Romanesque style, were built in the XIIth century, the choir, in Gothic style, was built in the XIIIth century. This porch decorated with sculptures is the work of Tournai sculptors.

Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium

The traditional procession of giants and dragons encompasses an original ensemble of festive rituals. The event essentially consists of a procession of huge effigies of giants animals or dragons within the scope of popular manifestations and ritual representations.

 

These cultural expressions first appeared in the urban religious processions of sixteenth century Western Europe and today still are emblems and provide a sense of identity to certain Belgian towns where they remain living traditions. These giants and dragons are large-scale models measuring up to 30 feet in height and weighing up to 770 pounds. They represent mythical heroes or animals, trades or contemporary local figures, historical, biblical or legendary characters. St George fighting the dragon is staged in Mons. The wide range of performances, often mixing secular procession and religious ceremony, varies from town to town. However, there is one constant: each expression follows a precise ritual and the giant is often related to the history, legend or life of the town.

 

Giants and dragons also animate other popular festivals where they are the main actors at least once a year, as each giant has its specific feast day. These gigantic effigies are carried by one or two people, who are hidden inside. They act out historical scenes and dance in the streets to the accompaniment of fanfares and costumed people. The crowd follows the procession, and many help in the preparations at different stages of the festival. The construction of a giant, and its ongoing maintenance, requires weeks of work and know-how in many techniques given the range of materials used.

Ducasse of Mons (Doudou)

This folkloric event takes place May 26th, 2013. It is known for being one of the oldest events of this kind in Belgium. Every year enormous crowds invade the town of Mons. The whole city participates and assists St Georges riding on horseback with eight chinchins to protect the city from the horrible dragon.

Giants of Ath

On the fourth weekend of August, the "Ducasse" festivities take place in Ath's historical center. For a few days, the whole town is vibrant with enthusiasm for its traditions and folklore. On Saturday, after Goliath's wedding, the giant fights against the shepherd boy David. On Sunday, there is a procession with several giants, floats and picturesque groups going through the streets of the city.

 

Meiboom at Brussels

Brussels' oldest folklore tradition. The cross bowmen of Saint-Laurent have been allowed to erect a May tree at the intersection of two streets (Rue du Marais and Rue des Sables) as a reward for a feat of arms in the 14th century. This event takes place August 9th with a procession with brass band, and giant puppets.