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UNESCO Sights in Belgium

UNESCO or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized organization of the UN. UNESCO’s aim is “to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information”. UNESCO pursue its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes; international science programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects; the promotion of cultural diversity; translations of world literature; international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.

UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states parties which are elected by their General Assembly.The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 189 states parties have ratified the convention.

Belfries of Belgium and France

The Belfries of Belgium and France is a group of 56 historical buildings designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, in recognition of an architectural manifestation of emerging civic independence in historic Flanders and neighbouring regions from feudal and religious influences, leading to a degree of local democracy of great significance in the history of humankind. UNESCO inscribed 32 towers onto its list of Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia in 1999. In 2005, the belfry of Gembloux in the Walloon Region of Belgium and 23 belfries from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie régions in the northern tip of France were appended to the renamed list

Flemish Béguinages

A béguinage (French) or begijnhof (Dutch) is a collection of small buildings used by Beguines. These were various lay sisterhoods of theRoman Catholic Church, founded in the 13th century in the Low Countries, comprising religious women who sought to serve God without retiring from the world. A béguinage comprises a courtyard surrounded by small dwellings. It is often encircled by a wall and secluded from the town proper by one or two gates. Poor and elderly beguines were housed here by benefactors. The first béguinages were set up in the 12th century in what has subsequently become the French speaking part of Belgium (Liège)

Historic Centre of Brugge

Bruges in English; Dutch: Brugge, is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country. The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”

La Grand-Place, Brussels

The Grand Place or Grote Markt is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. It measures 68 by 110 metres (223 by 360 ft). The Grand Place continued to serve as a market until November 19, 1959, and it is still called the Great Market or Grote Markt in Dutch. Neighbouring streets still reflect the area’s origins, named after the sellers of butter, cheese, herring, coal and so on. The Grand Place was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998. One of the houses was owned by the brewers’ guild, and is now the home of a brewers’ museum. The Grand Place was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in 2010. A survey by a Dutch website asked its users to rate different squares across Europe. Moscow’s Red Square and the Place Stanislas in Nancy, France, took second and third place.

Major Mining Sites of Wallonia

During the industrial revolution in the 19th century, mining and the heavy industry that relied on coal formed a major part of Belgium’s economy. Most of this mining and industry took place in the sillon industriel (“industrial valley” in French), a strip of land running across the country where many of the largest cities in Wallonia are located. The named locations of this World Heritage Site are all situated in or near the area of thesillon industriel. Mining activities in the area declined during the 20th century, and today the four mines listed are no longer operational. Nowadays they are each open to visitors as museums.

Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta

The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta in Brussels are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The UNESCO commission recognized them in 2000:
“ The four major town houses – Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta – located in Brussels and designed by the architect Victor Horta, one of the earliest initiators of Art Nouveau, are some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterised by their open plan, the diffusion of light, and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building.

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes

The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are Europe’s largest and earliest neolithic mines, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes, southeast of Mons, Belgium. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300-2200 BC). The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.The mines cover some 100 hectares of downland near Mons in Belgium and are interesting for showing the transition between opencast and underground mining for the flint nodules. The nodules were extracted using flint picks. The stones were then knapped into rough-out shapes of axes, and finally polished to achieve the final state.

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai

The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic church,see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia’s major heritage since 1936 and as a World Heritage Site since 2000. The building combines the work of three design periods with striking effect, the heavy and severe character of the Romanesque nave contrasting remarkably with the Transitional work of the transept and the fully developed Gothic of the choir. The transept is the most distinctive part of the building, with its cluster of five bell towers and apsidal (semicircular) ends.

Plantin Complex

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a museum in Antwerp, Belgium honouring the famous printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. It is located in their former residence and printing establishment, Plantin Press, at the Friday Market. The Plantin-Moretus Museum possesses an exceptional collection of typographical material. Not only does it house the two oldest surviving printing presses in the world and complete sets of dies and matrices, it also has an extensive library, a richly decorated interior and the entire archives of the Plantin business, which were inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme Register in 2001 in recognition of their historical significance.

Stoclet Palace

The Stoclet Palace is a private mansion built by architect Josef Hoffmann between 1905 and 1911 in Brussels, Belgium, for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. Considered Hoffman’s masterpiece, the Stoclet’s house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century. Stoclet Palace was constructed on Avenue de Tervueren, in the municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Brussels. The customary of the view of the house from the Avenue de Tervuren is not of the front of the building, but of the rear. The principle façade is on the other side, with the main entrance set in a portico beneath a concave wall between two trapezoid bays. it looks out over the fountains and formal gardens to lawns and a tennis court. This back to front plan gives the Stoclet Palace an unexpected note of intimacy and privacy that is not discernable from the road. Adolphe Stoclet had originally wanted the Avenue de Tervuren to be named after him, but when the promise of this was not realised he turned his back on the street. This character seems to have remained with the building, when after cases of pilfering, the house was closed to the public.

The 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 in the Sillon industriel of Wallonia, classified both as Wallonia’s Major Heritage and as a World Heritage Site (province of Hainaut). Along a particular 7 km (4.3 mi) 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 (217 ft). To overcome this difference, the 15.4-metre lift at Houdeng-Goegnies was opened in 1888, and the other three lifts, each with a 16.93 metres (55.5 ft) rise, opened in 1917.

Tentative List

The Tentative List is an inventory of important heritage and natural sites that a country is considering for inscription on the World Heritage List, thereby becoming World Heritage Sites. The Tentative List can be updated at any time, but inclusion on the list is a prerequisite to being considered for inscription within a five- to ten-year period.

  1. Ghent historic town centre, Ghent
  2. Antwerp historic town centre, Antwerp
  3. Memorials of the Great War, Westhoek and surrounding area
  4. Historic University of Leuven, Leuven
  5. Galleries of Brussels, including the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Brussels
  6. Buildings by Henry van de Velde
  7. Palais de Justice, Brussels
  8. Le plateau des Hautes-Fagnes, Liège
  9. Roman road from Bavay to Tongeren
  10. Thermal Springs of Spa, Spa
  11. Palace of the Princes Evêques de Liège, Liège
  12. Battlefield of Waterloo, Waterloo, Brussels
  13. Battle of Waterloo Cyclorama, Waterloo, Brussels
  14. The Mosane Citadels
  15. Hoge Kempen Industrial Landscape, Genk, Limburg

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