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Archaeology Travel guide Belgium

Belgium is known for its history and heritage, art and architecture, and its beautiful countryside and cuisine. Today, a country at the political heart of Europe Belgium has frequently been at the heart of historic events and traditions in Europe. Belgium has its fair share of UNESCO designated World Heritage, both tangible sites to visit and intangible traditions to experience. From Bruges and Brussels in the north to Liège and Charleroi in the south, in Belguim’s cities of art you will be able to explore some of Europe’s best loved painters.

Reasons to Visit Belgium

Laughing Gargoyle figure decorating medieval Town Hall in Brussels, Belgium. Gargoyles in gothic tradition used to divert rain water from building walls

Gothic Architecture,

Romantic Castles Of Europe . Poeke Castle In Belgium


Menin Gate Ypres

World War Memorials,

Belgian Waffles

… and Belgian Waffles.

Interesting Things to Know About Belgium

Belgium is divided into two halves according to language. The northern half, Flanders, speaks Flemish, a dialect of Dutch. The southern half, Wallonia, speaks French. Belgium’s capital city, Brussels, is enclosed within Flanders but is also largely French-speaking. Helping to provide a sense of unity in this divided country is Brussels’ status as the headquarters of the European Union.

A testament to Belgium’s prehistoric heritage, the country is home to the largest known Neolithic flint mine in Northwest Europe. Located at Spiennes, the mines spread across an area of over 100 hectares. The flint mines are now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although many of them have yet to be excavated by archaeologists. Also on the UNESCO list are more recent coal mines, such as Bois-du-Luc and Grand-Hornu, symbols of the industrial revolution.

Belgium ultimately takes its name from the Belgae, a confederation of communities who lived in this region of Northwest Europe during the Iron Age. As the Belgae were absorbed into the Roman Empire, their name was used as the basis for the Roman province of Gallia Belgica (Belgic Gaul) and, millennia later, was appropriated again for the new Belgian state.
Belgium became an independent nation-state in 1831 as a result of the Belgian Revolution. Motivated largely by religious motives, the revolutionaries were predominantly Roman Catholic and desired  independence from the Protestant monarchy of the Netherlands. They established Belgium as a kingdom, with the country retaining its constitutional monarchy to this day.
Europe’s first skyscraper, the Boerentoren or ‘Farmer’s Tower’, was built in Antwerp between 1928 and 1931. Designed in the art deco style, it reached a height of 96 metres. A harbinger of the architectural changes that would later sweep through many of Europe’s cities, it remained Belgium’s tallest building until 1960 and today is regarded as a prominent Antwerp landmark.

Historic Cities in Belgium

Archaeology & History Sites in Belgium

Flemish Béguinages

Beguinages were something unique to the Low Countries during the spiritual revival movement that began in the 13th century. Convent-like religious complexes, they were used to house the unmarried or widowed female beguines who, along with their male counterparts, the beghards, were spiritual lay persons that had devoted themselves to an ascetic life. Since 1998, UNESCO has given 13 different beguinages across Flanders the status of World Heritage Sites. Most remain inhabited but can be viewed freely from outside.

Grand Place, Brussels

Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe, Brussels’ Grand Place exudes eloquence. Most of the guildhalls and other buildings that surround the square date to the late 17th century when, after a French bombardment left it almost completely in ruins, the square was rebuilt in a Gothic and Baroque style. With so many things to do when visiting Brussels, one place that simply cannot be missed is this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Perhaps the most beautiful and impressive castle in the country, Gravensteen, or the “Castle of the Counts,” is a picturesque medieval castle in the centre of Ghent. Complete with moat, keep, and ramparts it is the quintessential medieval castle and the most intact of its kind in Flanders. Replacing an earlier timber fortification, the surviving castle was largely built in 1180 by Philip of Alsace as a statement of power over the rebellious people in Ghent. Today, the castle remains as a testament to the rich history of the Belgian people.

Manneken Pis

Only a five-minute walk from the Grand Place in Brussels, this quaint 17th century bronze statue attracts tourists from around the world. Depicting a cherub-like young boy unabashedly urinating into the basin of the fountain, it shows that the city of Brussels not only has a long and rich history but is also not without a sense of humour. It is worth a stop while exploring the city on a walking tour. Throughout the year, the statue can often be found dressed in different outfits.

Museums & Art Galleries in Belgium

In Flanders Fields Museum

Named after John McCrae’s famous war poem, the In Flanders Fields Museum focuses its attention on the devastation wrought by the First World War. Particular emphasis is placed on the war’s impact in Belgium, where over 600,000 people were killed during the conflict. Located in the historic cloth hall in Ypres, the museum outlines how the city was devastated by artillery bombardment and chemical warfare. Ypres itself was a place of enormous significance as it hosted five separate battles and was one of the locations for the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Royal Museum of Mariemont

Anyone interested in the wonders of the ancient world will find much to enjoy at the Royal Museum of Mariemont. Originally accumulated as the private collection of the wealthy industrialist Raoul Warocqué, the museum opened to the public in the early 20th century. Today, the museum houses a diverse assortment of antiquities from Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Near East, East Asia, and Pre-Columbian America. Also displayed are artefacts from the local Haine Valley, focusing on protohistory to the 7th century AD, as well as a vast collection of Tournai porcelain.

Popular Tours & Activities in Belgium