Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flanders: Traditional Belgian Charm with Stylish Modernism!

Flanders presents a fine balance between a two thousand-year-old culture and cutting edge contemporariness.

The region of Flanders in the North of Belgium, tucked between France and the Netherlands, strikes a fine balance between a two thousand-year-old heritage and its cutting edge modernity. This unique Flemish blend of traditional charm and stylish modernism is unmistakable, whether you’re picking out antiques in Brussels’ fashionable Sablon precinct, or unwinding at one of Ghent’s übercool jazz clubs.
The major historic cities in Flanders are Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. You will find bustling open-air markets, elegant shopping galleries, vibrant nightlife, gourmet restaurants and of course, the famed Belgian chocolate shops!
Brussels, Belgium’s capital houses the headquarters of the European Union and NATO. The city is famous for its art, culture, shopping and nightlife. It is home to many Museums including the prestigious Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the contemporary Comic Museum, where younger visitors flock to its exhibits on science fiction and children’s comics.

Brussels has over 80 nightclubs and bars, and a staggering 138 restaurants per square mile! Check out the shopping in the posh Le Sablon, a beautiful cobblestone square lined with elegant boutiques and home to art dealers, silverware and antiques, and to the prestigious auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés. Brussel’s Rue Neuve and the Grand Place are filled with local designers and other private design shops

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Antwerp is definitely every woman’s dream destination. Leopoldstraat is the best place for high end international brands, while the diamond district and Diamondland have the widest range and highest quality of diamond jewellery in the world.

Antwerp is also a well-known fashion hub, thanks to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The bustling Grote Markt square, the Antwerp Zoo and the Art Nouveau Zuid neighbourhood present an effortless mix of the ancient and the modern.

Bruges, ‘The City that Time Forgot’, has a beautiful, medieval city centre and an almost-continuous ring of canals around the centre. The only way to get around is by walking, cycling, boating or on horse-drawn carriages.

Chocolate shops, lace boutiques and multi-cuisine restaurants line the square. Among the many museums in Bruges are one for lamps (Lumina Domestica), Belgian Fries (Frietmuseum) and beer (Brewery Museum)!

If entering the heart of Bruges feels like you’re stepping into 14th century Europe then sightseeing through Ghent is like zipping from the Middle Ages to the 21st century! The city has an immense cultural heritage that includes 900 ancient structures. At the same time it enjoys a reputation as a lively, pulsating centre of art and music.

The Art of Chocolate: If chocolate is the food of the gods, then Belgium surely is heaven with more than 2,000 chocolate shops across the country. Visit the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate at Brussels and the Choco-Story Museum at Bruges. The innumerable private chocolatiers produce legendary brands like Godiva, Leonidas, Neuhaus, Marcolini and Mary Chocolatier, with stores across Flanders.
The famed Beer Culture: Home to Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe, Belgium offers a staggering 8700 brews, of which 500 standardized brands are available in breweries and restaurants! Flemish beers come in a variety of colours – white like Celis White, blondes like Duvel, sour browns like Goudenband and Petrus, and the distinct red ale like Rodenbach.

Beer restaurants and brewery tours abound in all Flemish cities, but for a unique experience head to The Dulle Griet, a bar on the Vrijdagmarkt in old Ghent. Before you can taste the house brew, you have to hand over a shoe as collateral against the large round glasses in which they are served!

Whether its unique Flemish culture, exclusive shopping, luxury dining, vibrant nightlife or simply enjoying the beautiful Belgian countryside, Flanders has something to offer every visitor, and plenty to keep them coming back for more! 

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