This beautiful church was built in the late Gothic style in the 15th century, and the exterior had me mesmerised at the intricacy and detail of the stonework and carvings.
According to legend, a young girl from Antwerp had a vision in which the Virgin Mary told her to steal a statue of herself and take it to this chapel. She managed to do this and arrived in Brussels by boat in 1348. The statue was placed in the chapel and became the patron of the guild of archers which later commissioned the bigger Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon. This church took about a century to build.
Sadly I didn’t go inside the church, that according to pics I’ve seen on the web is beautiful.
I thought I was going in the right direction to where I wanted to be. I tried Google Maps but it proved to be wholly unreliable in the twisting streets of Brussels. Frustrated I walked and if push came to shove I would find a taxi stand and climb into one. But not before I tried navigating on my own. I mean, I could find a coffee shop to rest my tired feet, or I could find a mall and do some shopping. There are worse things than that. I was all about the adventure and what I could find on the journey to the hop on hop off red tourist bus terminus.
But first things first…I experimented with travelling with a backpack in preparation for Thailand. I bought a nice 70L backpack and in hindsight, I should have bought a 40L instead. I packed it too heavily although I tried VERY hard to keep things light. It was about 10kgs, and I strained my back which needed anti-inflammatory jabs, rest and physiotherapy to help, all in a matter of the 5 short days between arriving from Belgium and leaving for Thailand with Che. That said, I will use a backpack again, it’s practical and easy to carry in and out of public transport.
I found a gorgeous little Airbnb in Sablon, comfortable and in a cobbled lane closed off to vehicles. It was central to everything I needed. Sablon is trendy, filled with restaurants, coffee shops, ancient churches and loads of shopping opportunities – my kind of place. And I was delighted that it had a coffee machine.
The streets of Sablon are quaint and old-fashioned and they remind me so much of Bairro Alto in Lisbon. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might remember that Lisbon is one of my all-time favourite places which I love visiting every year…although not this year…yet…
In the process of getting lost, I stumbled upon a remnant of the first city wall, this tower is named the Tour Anneessens, in Sablon, along the Boulevard de l’Empereur. It’s well preserved and the real surprise for me was that it’s standing in the middle of more modern buildings, like an ancient island of stone among a sea of modernity.
The Eglise Notre Dame du Sabon, Gothic in style was just around the corner and it’s a fascinating church. I will post more specifically on this church in another post. It’s beautiful, adorned with intricate carvings and stonework, and I’m intrigued at the images on the outside. I’ve just finished reading Dan Brown’s Origin, so I’m in ‘Dan Brown’ mood, and I’m wondering at the symbolism of the images carved in stone…what they mean and why they were created there.
And finally, for this post, more images I took whilst getting lost…Belgium was tropical, hot weather with scarce a breeze, and it was fun watching families run through the mists of cool water in the middle of a plaza. The iron-shaped building along the Boulevard Adolphe Max was on my way to the Grand-Place where preparations were underway to welcome the Belgian soccer team back home. I arrived back in Brussels from Geetbets the following Sunday, straight into a sea a red clad soccer fans – but more about this in another post. Gosh, I’ve got a lot of material for my blog for a while.
In the process of getting lost, I did find a coffee shop where I rested my tired feet over a coffee and croissant, and a shopping mall. I have a gorgeous pair of shoes in my closet as a reminder of the day I got lost in Brussels looking for the hop on hop off red tourist bus.
It now houses the Justice Museum along with its collection of torture equipment and weapons. The Gravensteen Castle in Ghent is spine-chilling. Also known as the Castle of the Counts, it’s a medieval fortress, with restored stonework, complete with an enclosed keep and 24 towers.
The torture and weapons exhibit is an experience, complete with sound-effects of screaming people coming from the depths of the castle…the dungeon!
The impressive military architecture conveys power and strength which has seen many battles since the times of the Roman occupation.
The torture part of the museum comes complete with a guillotine and an example of torture. Have a look…
For locals, the castle eventually came to symbolise oppression and the abuse of power and it was allowed to decay until it was bought by the government and restored to what it looks like today.
One of my childhood friends was from Belgium, and her family moved to South Africa early on. My curiosity about this country was satisfied in January this year when I went to Ghent for a training course. I took a few days to explore Ghent before the course. It was cold and everywhere I went the smell of chocolate pervaded the streets. It was bliss…
Christmas lights were still up and the markets still active. I left on the day that they started to take all this down.
I’m going back in July, for another training course in Geetbets. I’m slowly exploring Belgium, town by town, and I’m loving what I’ve seen. I’ll be spending a few days in Brussels before travelling to Geetbets. I have no clue of how to get there and I’m hoping that it will involve train travel.
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Social Entrepreneur, chief wide eyed in wanderer, wonderer and bottlewasher