Alphabetical List of Eight Places Visited in Belgium
Antwerp (Photos)(Slideshow) in the west on the river Schelde is a major port city, the object of the Nazi's last ditch offensive, the Battle of the Bulge.   It has Europe's largest Cathedral and a distinguished heritage in art.  Both Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke painted there, the latter as an apprentice to the former.  It is the diamond capitol of Europe.  Antwerp has a very nice zoo and  maritime museum.  The square anchored at one end by the city hall is surrounded by a number of interesting buildings. You can see the front gables of some of them in the photo at the left.  We visited twice and both times were an unanticipated pleasure.
Bastogne (Photos)(Slideshow in the southeast is near the German and Luxembourg border.  It was in the way of the Nazi assault from the Ardennes forest in the Battle of the Bulge.  American troops under General McAuliffe refused to surrender the town and held it until the relief column under General Patton arrived.  Bastogne took a severe beating in the process.  Today it is rebuilt and there is a Sherman tank with punctured armor on perpetual display in McAuliffe Square.  There is a small private museum displaying battle related artifacts dug up from the
immediate area and there is the Bastogne Historical Center memorializing and describing the battle 
Bruges  (Photos)(Slideshow) in the northwest near the coast is one of the most picturesque cities anywhere.  Like Antwerp it also has a distinguished art history.  Both Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling worked here.  We love the whole look of the city with its ornate buildings on the main square, and on the nearby square where the Council building, the Gothic Hall (photo of interior on left) and the Tourist office are located, and its many beautiful canals, and pretty shops displaying fine lace, chocolate, ice cream and other foods.
Brussels, (Photos) the capitol of Belgium, the seat of the French speaking culture, and home to the European Union and NATO is also a beautiful city, part built on a hilltop and part below.  Like many European cities it has a large population of residents who immigrated from other nations.  There are large Turkish and Moroccan communities, for example.  The square where the city hall is located (photo at right) is called the Grand Place, and it deserves its name.  The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is first class and there also is a Museum of Musical Instruments devoted to the history of music.
Gent (Ghent), (Photos)(Slideshow) in the northwest is another grand city in Belgium, with canals, an inland port and grand architecture.  It is also a university town, where students relax on the canalsides and street cafes.  Its two main canals are lined with former warehouses that look like huge mansions and mansions that were guild halls.  There are several imposing churches and a Cathedral, St Baaf's, in which you can see the original van Eyck masterpiece,  "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" 
Liege  (Photos)(Slideshow) is in eastern Belgium near the German Border.  It is an industrial city with an old center where the streets are named after the trades that used to be on them in the 15th and 16th century and where there is a 13th century (!) monument to freedom, le Perron (photo at right).   Like Gent it is a university town.   It has an archeology museum, a Folk Museum devoted to Wallonian culture and a Cathedral, in which there are two especially beautiful carved marble statues, one which might be of the Virgin and another called "the Genius of Evil". 
Waterloo (Photos)(Slideshow) , just south of Brussells, is of course where Napoleon's army was defeated causing him to be removed from power.  There is a huge pyamid with a lion statue on a stone base at the peak serving as a monument to Napolean at the edge of what was the battlefield.  There also is a reception center where you can view a film illustrating how the battle went.  Across the street there is a museum with dioramas showing principal officers standing or lying around illustrating significant moments in the battle.  You can climb to the top of the pyramid where there is a sort of map showing where in the panorama before you the different forces in the battle did things.  We are not sure that this visit would be interesting to people other than military buffs.
Ypres (Photos)(Slideshow), in the west, is almost the last town before crossing into France.  This helps explain why three horrendous battles were fought there during the first World War.  Now it is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  It is where the Flanders Field Museum is located which is dedicated to understanding that war.  The Menin Gate, a memorial to the British and Commonwealth unknown soldiers who died in those battles.  These and known dead soldiers are buried in the Tyne Cot Cemetery which is nearby.  A visit to Ypres is a moving and sobering experience.
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