UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 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

Blegny-Mine

Blegny-Mine is one of the four major coal mines in Wallonia, a recognised UNESCO world heritage site. It is an authentic coal mine with underground galleries accessible for the visitors through the original shaft. In Blegny, the coalworking started in the 16th century under the impulse of the Monks of Val-Dieu, owners of the coal area. The first granting, Trembleur, was allowed to Gaspar Corbesier in 1799. This marked th ...
Founded: 1799 | Location: Blégny, 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

Belfry of Thuin

The Belfry of Thuin is one of 56 belfries of Belgium and France since 1999 classified world heritage of UNESCO. The tower of the old church of Saint-Théodard, built without foundations on slate rock, is undeniably medieval and must date from the time of the greatest development of the city. Specifically in the period between 1153 and 1164 during visits of Bishop Henri-Leez prince decides to erect a tower for the ch ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Thuin, Belgium

St. Leonard's Church

The Saint Leonard's Church in Zoutleeuw stands on the former site of a Romanesque chapel erected in 1125 by Benedictines from Vlierbeek Abbey near Leuven. Construction of the present church began around 1231, and additions continued into the 16th century. Rendered mainly in the Gothic style, the building in its oldest parts shows traces of the Romanesque. The two heavy square towers flanking the west facade are connected ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Zoutleeuw, Belgium

Herentals Cloth Hall

The Cloth Hall of Herentals with its belfry is one of the 56 belfries in Belgium and France, whose has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cloth hall dates from the 15th century, however it was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt.
Founded: 1534 | Location: Herentals, 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

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

Lifts on the Old Canal du Centre

The lifts on the old Canal du Centre are a series of four hydraulic boat lifts near the town of La Louvière, classified both as Wallonia"s Major Heritage and as a World Heritage Site. Along a particular 7km stretch of the Canal du Centre, which connects the river basins of the Meuse and the Scheldt, the water level rises by 66.2 metres. To overcome this difference, the 15.4-metre lift at Houdeng-Goegnies was opened ...
Founded: 1888-1917 | Location: La Louvière, Belgium

Tongeren Béguinage

Tongeren Béguinage, founded in 1257 is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Its enclosure wall was destroyed in the 19th century: it separated the beguinage from the rest of the city and thus guaranteed peace and quiet for the small religion-inspired community. In the 17th century the beguinage counted some 300 beguines; it was also able to survive the 1677 fire that destroyed most of the city. In the cente ...
Founded: 1257 | Location: Tongeren, Belgium

Bois-du-Luc

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bois-du-Luc mine site is an exceptional testimony to the Industrial Era. This fully-preserved, authentic heritage offers an eloquent illustration of the impact of industrialisation on a technical, environmental, architectural and social level. The site relates the exceptionally long story of a mining company founded in 1685, that closed its doors in 1973. The Fosse Saint-Emmanuel pit ope ...
Founded: 1685 | Location: La Louvière, Belgium

Eeklo City Hall

The red-brick Eeklo city hall is a mixture of 17th century Flemish Renaissance architecture and modern renovations. One of the later additions (1930-32) is the belfry tower, which houses the town bells formerly kept in the adjacent church. Despite its young age and modest appearance, the tower became part of a set of belfries inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.
Founded: 17th century | Location: Eeklo, Belgium

Maison Guiette

Maison Guiette also known as Les Peupliers, is a house in Antwerp designed by Le Corbusier in 1926 and built in 1927. It was the studio and living quarters of René Guiette, a painter and art critic. One of the Franco-Swiss architect"s lesser-known works, it is an early example of the International Style. In July 2016, the house and several other works by Le Corbusier were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Si ...
Founded: 1926-1927 | Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Lo-Reninge Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Lo is a historic landmark in the municipality of Lo-Reninge. Formerly the seat of the municipal government, the building is now a hotel and restaurant. The hall was built in 1565-1566 in Renaissance style by Joos Staesin from Ypres, in replacement of an older, dilapidated town hall. At the corner of the building is a belfry tower, supported in the front by two Tuscan columns. The four walls at the to ...
Founded: 1565-1566 | Location: Lo-Reninge, Belgium

St. Alex Beguinage

The St. Alex beguinage (1288) consists of 61 houses built around a trapezoidal courtyard surrounding a small church. The beguinage is an island of tranquillity in the heart of town. Similarly to the Belfry, the St. Alex beguinage has been proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage in 1998. To keep the memory of the beguines alive, one small house (nr.11 H. Bonifacius) has been furnished as an authentic beguine's home. In 1975 the ...
Founded: 1288 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Gembloux Belfry

The Gembloux belfry is part of the former parish church of Saint-Sauveur which dates probably date back to the 10th century. The church was no longer in use from 1810 and then demolished. In 1905, the bell tower was destroyed by a fire. From 1907 this was replaced by a new spherical bell. Gembloux"s Belfry belongs to the set of belfries of Belgium and France inscribed on UNESCO"s World Heritage List in 2005.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gembloux, Belgium

St. Agnes Beguinage

The St. Agnes Beguinage in Sint-Truiden was built in the mid-13th century. Beguinage is an architectural complex which was created to house beguines: lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world. In its heyday there were more than 200 beguines. Most houses were built during the 17th or 18th century when the original half-timbered houses were replaced due great fire. The Romane ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sint-Truiden, Belgium

Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes

The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are among the largest and earliest Neolithic flint mines of north-western Europe, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300–2200 BC). The mines occupy two chalk plateaux located to the south-east of the city of Mons. They cover an area essentially devoted to agriculture. The site appears on the surface as a large ...
Founded: 4300–2200 BC | Location: Spiennes, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.