Saturday, September 20, 2008

THE ABBEY OF VILLERS LA VILLE - Belgium

September 20, 2008


As the weather was nice (for once) I thought about visiting the Abbey of Villers la Ville. I had seen it once, but at least 40 years ago and didn't remember anything.

It is not very far from Brussels and even less from Waterloo. What I discovered then was absolutely beautiful !

The Villers Abbey (Abbaye de Villers) is an ancient Cistercian abbey located near the town of Villers-la-Ville in the Brabant province of Belgium. Founded in 1146, the abbey was abandoned in 1796. The site today contents only the ruins.

But contemporary accounts suggest that roughly 100 monks and 300 lay brothers resided in the abbey ! The lands attached to it were reaching some 100 km² of woods, fields and pasturages. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the abbey's fortunes diminished. The number of monks and the abbey's wealth disappeared and it was finally abandoned in 1796 in the wake of the French Revolution.

The Belgian state purchased the site in 1893 and launched a conservation effort. It was classed as an official historic site in 1973. The remains of the abbey can still be seen, including the cloister, refectory, kitchens, dormitories, and brewing house. I am sure the brewing house was the most important place for all these monks, they loved to drink beer.

The church, although in ruins, is an outstanding example of Cistercian architecture, with imposing vaulting, arches and rose windows.

You can read more here.



A little card showing you where the Abbey is located, between Brussels and Namur


The original Abbey as you can see it is very big.





The ruins of the church are covered with ivy.


The walls are very thick





The ceiling is very high






The construction of a railroad had also damaged they abbey.





An airplane picture of the abbey.

I think I don't have to describe more. The pictures speak by themselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

THE CASTLE OF BEERSEL (Belgium)

When I am on holidays I always visit the most interesting things in this place but at home I don't even think about visiting something ! I wanted to take some pictures of a castle and went to one I had been last time maybe 35 years ago ! I didn't remember anything when I rediscovered the Castle of Beersel.

It is located in the Belgian town of Beersel, south of Brussels. It has 3 ponderous watchtowers, and is surrounded by a wide moat.

The castle was built between 1300 and 1310 as a defense base for Brussels and was damaged during the war of succession of Brabant (1356-57), but was repaired just after that. In 1489 during a rebellion against Maximilian of Austria, the castle was sieged, taken and plundered by the Brusselians. It burnt down and was partially destroyed, but restored after the war.

A tiled roof was added in the 17th century, but the castle became unoccupied from the 18th century. In 1818, a cotton factory occupied the site of the fortress. The property passed by a series of owners until the last one donated the castle to the League of Friends of the Castle of Beersel in 1928, which restored it. In 1948, it passed to the Royal Association of Historic Residences in Belgium.

A drawing shows how it looked before

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and when I visited it. The moat was empty because of renovation work. I couldn't take any pictures of the parc surrounding the castle, because that day the city of Beersel had organized a barbecue there.

The very heavy entrance door of the castle

embrasures all around

The stairs are terrible, like a screw taking you up to the towers !

In one quite nice preserved room there still was the chimney and the tiles

The ceiling

you can walk around these narrow ways all around the castle

but it is not very comfortable

Even early morning tourists where already there

I didn't take these steps, the staircase was so narrow !

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On this old picture you can see how it should look like. The moat filled with water to keep the enemy away.

But it had been dried out for renovation

Before arriving at the castle you will find this nice restaurant/café just before the entrance.

on the patio was an old wine press

I had a coffee here before I returned home.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

THE ROYAL PALACE IN BRUSSELS

September 9, 2008

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King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium

Once a year during July-September the Royal Palace is open to the public. I thought it would be a good opportunity to take pictures inside, because it is very beautiful and has a lot of history.
Of course already at the entrance I was asked by a guardian if I had a camera. No photos allowed inside. I told him that it is to publish on a blog to let people know how beautiful the palace is, but the poor guy looked at me as if I had spoken Chinese, he didn't know what a blog was. I gave up and made pictures outside.
If you are interested in how it looks inside go here
Here is the outside of the palace.
The facade you see today was only built after 1900 on the initiative of King Leopold II. The first nucleus of the present-day building dates from the end of the 18th century. However, the grounds on which the palace stands were once part of a very old palatial complex that dated back to the Middle Ages, which I show you further down.
The Royal Palace of Brussels is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. It is his office where each morning at 10 am you can see him arriving in his limousine.


The balcony for the royal family to wave to their subjects

Front side left

and front side right.
You may notice that there are no guards anymore. The previous King Baudouin didn't like to see his guardians outside in the heat, rain, snow and cold and had them removed inside.

The gates

In front of the palace is a huge park, the Royal Parc.

a look inside



This was the first palace of Brusselsbuilt on Coudenberg hill between the second half of the 11th and first half of the 12th century. It overlooked Brussels until the 18th century and was destroyed by fire during the night of 3 to 4 February 1731.
Subsequently it was then pulled down and the ground flattened out for the construction of the new royal district. You can see here now the archaeological remains of that palace.

The entrance to the "underground"


The Place royale with its palaces, and underneath the remaining ruins of the ancient palace

at the entrance you are greated by the first king of Belgium, Leopold I

A restaurant inside, before you go down to the :







Useless to say that I felt a little strange there ! It was 10 am and I was all alone ! Above me I could hear the cars and tramways who let the ground shake a bit. There were ways and ways to go but the one I looked for I didn't find.
It is said that King Leopold III (who had the reputation of a terrible womanizer) let built a little way to a district in Brussels where he could join prostitutes without being recognized. But I instead anxiously watched if there also was a sign "Exit" otherwise I would never have found my way out !












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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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