UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 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

Nieuwpoort City Hall and Belfry

The Nieuwpoort belfry tower (as part of the city Hall) is one of the 56 belfries in Belgium and France, whose has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The belfry stands above the rectangular city hall which originates from the 14th century. During the First World War tower and the hall were, along with the entire city, almost completely destroyed. In 1921-1923 the belfry and the hall were reconstructed. The hal ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nieuwpoort, 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

Basilica of Our Lady

The Gothic tower of the Basilica of Our Lady dominates over the town of Tongeren and the surrounding area. It was built in Gothic style in the 13th century and recent excavations have produced some of the richest archaeological finds in Flanders. Archaeological excavations have proven the presence of an edifice here starting from the 4th century, while a Carolingian prayer house existed here in the 9th century. The buildi ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Tongeren, 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

Schepenhuis

The Schepenhuis (Aldermen"s House) of Aalst is a former city hall, one of the oldest in the Low Countries. Dating originally from 1225, it was partially rebuilt twice as a result of fire damage, first after a 1380 war and again after a fireworks accident in 1879. The belfry tower at one corner of the building was completed in 1460, and in the next year was equipped with a carillon built by master craftsmen from Mech ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Aalst, 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 ...
Founded: 1257 | Location: Tongeren, 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

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

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. 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 197 ...
Founded: 1288 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Tielt Belfry

The centrepiece of the Tielt market square is the belfry, which is the only remnant of the cloth hall. Its carillon was built by the du Mery brothers from Bruges in 1773. It has 36 bells with a total weight of 831 kilograms. It’s the only complete du Mery carillon in Flanders. The belfry is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Founded: 1773 | Location: Tielt, 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. Germanus Church

St. Germanus Church with Stadstoren (City Tower) was built in the first half of the 12th century. The church was destroyed and rebuilt several times. Parts of the original church remain from the 14th-15th century. The tower was erected in 1555. Together with plenty other belfries in Belgium and France St. Germanus Church was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Tienen, 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 conn ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Zoutleeuw, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.