Flanders, the northern region of Belgium and the home of the Flemish Masters, remains one of the world’s most culturally sophisticated regions. As some of the most influential artists of 15-17th centuries, the Flemish Masters ensured Flanders’ position at the forefront of art movements such as Primitive, Renaissance and Baroque.
A trip around Flanders shows how the concept of Flemish Masters is being redefined in the 21st century. The Flemish Masters of today are generating considerable excitement in fields as diverse as fashion, food, beer brewing and music. Take Antwerp, for example. Known for the home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens, today it is also known as the best place to savour the world-famous Belgian waffles, as well as the home of a vibrant fashion and entertainment industry. If you make a trip to Tomorrowland, do visit the MoMU for some eccentric fashion inspiration.
Bruges, meanwhile, is rightfully called an open-air museum, being a UNESCO World Heritage City. You can get your art fix at the Groeningemuseum, known for featuring classical painters. Here you can find Belgian paintings spanning six centuries. For those who value the culinary arts, Bruges is also home to a chocolate museum, a museum dedicated to potato fries and the world’s first beer pipeline.
Brussels has always been a dreamland for comic book nerds, who can embark on guided tours inspired by The Adventures of Tintin, the Smurfs and the Asterix series. It’s a spirit perhaps inspired by art of the surrealist artist René Magritte, to whom the Magritte Museum is dedicated. Beer and history lovers can visit the family-owned Cantillon brewery to observe the brewing process that hasn’t changed in over a hundred years.
The van Eyck brothers’ Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a Flemish Primitive altarpiece, represents a milestone in art history, and is the pride of the port city Ghent. At the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, one can even witness the live restoration of this most stolen artwork of all time. The Design Museum Ghent, meanwhile, exhibits a trend-setting collection of Belgian and international design. Though a relatively lesser known Belgian city, Ghent also boasts a thriving underground music and street art scene. Exciting crossovers between the two aren’t uncommon – one can leave behind their mark (or better still a mural) at the Graffiti Street. The city also boasts of high-quality vegetarian cuisine and is rightly called the Veggie Capital of Europe.
Those interested in art history, or just new cultures in general, can explore Flanders with the Flemish Masters project. With an abundance of activities and events, the project will provide an insight into the life and times of these artists. Imagine walking through the actual house where Rubens lived and worked, seeing the landscapes that inspired Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and discovering an original painting by Jan van Eyck in the exact location depicted in the painted scene. The Flemish Masters Project is great way to explore the New Flemish Masters as well, who are brewing the world’s best beers, making award-winning chocolates, running Michelin-starred or the Flemish Rebel restaurants and dictating iconoclastic fashion.
If you wish for a deeper engagement with the region, Flanders also lends well to cycling. Cycle among the castles, the museums and the churches, and then through the tranquil countryside for a wholesome Flemish experience. For the culturally-oriented, Flanders is truly a paradise of art and culture, as the video below shows.
Plan your itinerary for your Flanders trip with Visit Flanders, here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Visit Flanders and not by the Scroll editorial team.
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