UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium

Stoclet Palace

The Stoclet Palace was built by architect Josef Hoffmann for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet between 1905 and 1911. Considered Hoffman"s masterpiece, the Stoclet"s house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century. The mansion is still occupied by the Stoclet family and is not open to visitors. It was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in June 2009. The Stocl ...
Founded: 1905-1911 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Belfry of Namur

The belfry of Namur, also called Saint-Jacob"s Tower was constructed in 1388 as part of the city wall. It was remodeled as a belfry in 1746. It is one of the 56 belfries of Belgium and France classified as the World Heritage Site of the UNESCO. In the beginning, one of the clocks of the Saint-Pierre-au-Château church served as belfry for the citizens of Namur, which is to indicate the time and to announce even ...
Founded: 1388 | Location: Namur, Belgium

Belfry of Mons

The belfry of Mons is one of the more recent among the belfries of Belgium and France. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1999. It is the only one in Belgium that is constructed in baroque style. With an altitude of 87 meters, it dominates the city of Mons, which is constructed on a hill itself. The building was designed by architecture Louis Ledoux. He led the works from 1662 until his death in 16 ...
Founded: 1662-1669 | Location: Mons, Belgium

Menen Town Hall

Menen"s town hall consists of several buildings located in the middle of the market square. Through the centuries, it has been repeatedly devastated and altered. The present town hall building was established in 1782, when the Austrian Habsburgers ruled over the Southern Netherlands. The façade is in a simple and austere classical style. The Cloth Hall and the Mansion (landhuis) were also part of the town hall ...
Founded: 1782 | Location: Menen, Belgium

Kortrijk Béguinage

The Saint Elisabeth Béguinage (Begijnhof) from 1238 is a combination of a béguinage square and street and was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. The Kortrijk béguinage was surrounded by the castle of the Counts of Flanders, the city walls and the St. Martin"s Church Cemetery and is situated between the Church of Our Lady and the St. Martin"s Church. The Kortrijk béguinage ha ...
Founded: 1238 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Belfry of Tournai

The belfry of Tournai is a freestanding bell tower of medieval origin, 72 metres in height with a 256-step stairway. This landmark building is one of a set of belfries of Belgium and France registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Construction of the belfry began around 1188 when King Philip Augustus of France granted Tournai its town charter, conferring among other privileges the right to mount a communal bell to r ...
Founded: 1188 | Location: Tournai, Belgium

Kortrijk Belfry

The belfry (Belfort) of Kortrijk stands in the centre of the Grote Markt and was part of the former cloth hall. The earliest mention of the cloth hall dates back to 1248. The belfry is an imposing square tower, slightly sunk into the market square. This is due to the market being raised throughout the centuries. The view from the tower was mainly determined in 1520 with the reconstruction of the upper section of the tower ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Grand Béguinage

The Grand Béguinage of Leuven is a well preserved and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen of streets in the south of downtown Leuven. With some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, it is one of the largest still existing beguinages in the Low Countries. It is owned by the University of Leuven and used as a campus, especially for housing students and academic guests. As a community for unmarri ...
Founded: 1234 | Location: Leuven, Belgium

Sint-Truiden City Hall

Sint-Truiden’s historical centre includes the town hall (Stadhuis), with a 17th-century tower classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999 (as part of Belfries in Belgium and France). The oldest parts of the building date from the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sint-Truiden, Belgium

Bois du Cazier

The Bois du Cazier was coal mine in Marcinelle, Charleroi. It was the scene of a mining disaster on 8 August 1956, when 263 men including 136 migrant Italian labourers lost their lives. The site today hosts a woodland park, memorial to the miners, the pit head, an industry museum and a glass museum. The museum is an Anchor point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage. A concession to mine was given by royal decree ...
Founded: 1822 | Location: Charleroi, Belgium

Oudenaarde Town Hall

Oudenaarde Town Hall was built by architect Hendrik van Pede in 1526–1537 to replace the medieval Schepenhuis (Aldermen"s House) that occupied the same site. Another older structure, the 14th-century Cloth Hall, was retained and now forms a sort of extension at the back of the Town Hall proper. The Oudenaarde Town Hall was a late flowering of secular Brabantine Gothic architecture, carrying on the stylistic tr ...
Founded: 1526–1537 | Location: Oudenaarde, Belgium

Grand-Hornu

Grand-Hornu is an old industrial mining complex in Hornu in the municipality of Boussu. It was built by Henri De Gorge between 1810 and 1830. It is a unique example of functional town-planning. Today it is owned by the province of Hainaut, which houses temporary exhibitions in the buildings. As one of four Major Mining Sites of Wallonia, UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 2012
Founded: 1810-1830 | Location: Boussu, Belgium

Lier Béguinage

Béguinage of Lier is today a walled village in the community and consists of 162 buildings and St. Margaret"s Church. One of the four entrances to the beguinage is a renaissance gate surmounted by a statue of the Holy Begga. Lier Béguinage was founded in the 1258, when three sisters decided found a place for spiritual women. About 200 years later, the beguinage was grown and had a church, hospital and t ...
Founded: 1258 | Location: Lier, Belgium

Roeselare Town Hall

The oldest part of the Roeselare town hall was built between 1769 and 1771 in Louis XV style. The building got its modern wing in 1924. In 1999 the belfry, along with 55 other in Belgium and France, was recognized as a UNESCO as world heritage site.
Founded: 1769-1771 | Location: Roeselare, Belgium

Hôtel van Eetvelde

The Hôtel van Eetvelde is a town house designed in 1895 by Victor Horta for Edmond van Eetvelde, administrator of Congo Free State. Together with the Hôtel Tassel, the Hôtel Solvay and his own House and atelier it was put on the "UNESCO World Heritage List" in 2000 as the core of epoch-making urban residences Victor Horta designed before 1900. The visible application of 'industrial' materials such as st ...
Founded: 1895 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Large Béguinage

Beguines are women who could not or did not want to enter a convent, but lived together as a community to support themselves. Around 1560 the beguinage outside the city walls of Mechelen was destroyed. The beguines re-established themselves inside the city walls, where the Large Beguinage (Groot Begijnhof) grew up. They bought up existing buildings and built new dwellings, which explains why the Large Beguinage is rather ...
Founded: 1560 | Location: Mechelen, Belgium

Diksmuide Belfry

Diksmuide belfry contains a 30-bell carillon and is one of the several belfries of Belgium and France that are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The City Hall and neighbouring Saint Nicolas Church were completely rebuilt after World War I in the Gothic style of the 14th and 15th centuries. The foundation stone of the town hall was laid in 1428. major renovations were carried out between 1567 and 1572. The con ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Diksmuide, Belgium

Binche Town Hall

Binche"s town hall and belfry dates back to the 14th century. Burnt down by the French in 1554, the hall was soon restored in a Renaissance style by architect Du Broeucq. In the 18th century, the architect Dewelz covered the building with a neoclassical façade but, after major restoration works in 1901, the town hall regained its Renaissance appearance. A Baroque onion dome crowns the belfry. The belfry houses ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Binche, Belgium

Veurne Town Hall

Several Renaissance-style buildings, mostly built using the local light-coloured brick, adorn Veurne’s central market square, which make it one of Belgium"s finest market squares. Among these are the city hall (Landhuis) and belfry, which is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1999. The Belfry of Cecilia Tower was built in 1628.
Founded: 1628 | Location: Veurne, Belgium

Dendermonde Town Hall

The former Cloth Hall on the Dendermonde Market Square is a jewel of Flemish medieval architecture. The Town Hall is especially colourful during the summer months, when it is embellished with heraldic flags and flower baskets. The Belfry, Unesco World Heritage since 1999, has housed a carillon since 1548, complete according to the Mechelen Standard with 49 bells, of 6800 kgs total weight. You will appreciate the magnifi ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.