Saturday, 10 June 2017


I wonder how many of you know in which country Tongeren is located. Any guesses? Well my friends, one thing for sure - this will be a new country on our map. As a hint, you can look at the flags on the Town Hall of Tongeren - they are black, yellow and red. Welcome to the Kingdom of Belgium!

Tongeren is a small, sleepy town with a population of around thirty thousand people. But it is exceptional in more than one way. First, it is the oldest town in Belgium, founded by the Romans in 15 BC. The Roman heritage of the region can be discovered in the Gallo-Roman museum.

I am sure that the first part of the name brought some memories. And no, Asterix was never in Tongeren. But Ambiorix was. He was the chief of a local tribe who tried to push back the Romans. But unfortunately they did not have the magic potion.

The second reason why Tongeren is exceptional is that it has not one but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites! The first one is related to the cathedral.

This time, it is not the church itself that has deserved the recognition of UNESCO but the tower, called beffroi or belfry. This tower was actually built by the city not by the religious movements and it was meant to protect the inhabitants, for example by raising the alarm in case of fire.

Obviously the gothic Basilica of Our Lady itself is also worth seeing. After all, it took over three hundred years to build it.

 Inside it is tall and rather dark.

It is one of many German churches on the Route of Santiago.

Just outside the church I noticed a huge book surrounded with flowers. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Tongeren, called the Queen of Tongeren.

Let's take now one of these nice streets and look for the second UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here comes the sign. Any guesses which is ours?

Begijnhof or beguinage was a commune of women who lived together for religious reasons, even though they were not nuns.

They were building small nice houses. In former Netherlands, beguinage typically comprised one or more courtyards surrounded by houses in which women could live together and provide each other protection.

Obviously they also had their own churches. The one in Tongeren was built in 1294 and is devoted, not surprisingly, to a female saint - Saint Catherine.

The beguinage in Tongeren is nowadays a museum.

Unfortunately as I arrived, the museum was already closed. Maybe I will be more lucky in another location one day - there are 13 of them on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

I hope that you have enjoyed this walk through Flanders in this really nice town of Tongeren.

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