OUR LADY BASILICA
A gothic masterpiece, the stately tower of OUR LADY BASILICA or O. L. Vrouwebasiliek, is the most striking symbol of Tongeren. From any direction, you can see the belfry tower from miles away. The sound of the chimes will lure you to "Grote Markt" or Market Square.
It took builders 300 years to complete the Basilica and the result is definitely worth it as it is one of the most beautiful examples of gothic architecture.
Inside, is the statue of Our Lady, dated from the 15th century. Her coronation is commemorated every seven years since 1890 by means of a large procession with more than 3000 participants
Take a walk through the BEGUINAGE and take a good look at the houses and the "Begijnhofkerk" ( Church of the Beguinage ). Many buildings date from the late 1500's.
In my travelogue, I will show some scenes from the old buildings in the Beguinage. Many have been lovingly restored.
Tongeren also has a long history of Christian traditions. First sanctuary of the Holy Virgin north of the Alpes, pilgrimages were already organized during the Middle Age.
When in 1890 the mercyful statue "Cause of Our Joy" was crowned by Mgr. Doutreloux, the inhabitants of Tongeren decided to extend the pilgrimages to Coronation Celebrations every seven years.This tradition is kept alive up to the present day.The last one was in 2002 and in 2009 the Coronation will be organized for the seventeenth time.By means of pontifical masses, processions and evening happenings, with the cooperation of more than threethousand townsmen, but also through concerts and by decorating the streets, Tongeren expresses his admiration for the "Cause of Our Joy".
Even if you are not a Christian, like me, it's still worth going to it if you have the chance. It's nice to see how the whole city worked so hard to make it something special.
There are pictures of the 2002-edition on the website.
ALDEN BIESEN IN BILZEN
After leaving Tongeren, Johan took us to this fairy-tale castle called ALDEN BIESEN. As there was some type of function going on inside, we were not able to go in, but we did explore the grounds of the castle.
Alden Biesen is located near the town of Bilzen on the E313 between Liege and Hasselt
Tongeren - Our home town
"Welcome to Belgium's oldest town !"
Tongeren is very different to other cities. It is over 2000 years old and those 20 centuries of history have really left an impressive mark on the town.
A visitor will not only be impressed by the huge treasure of cultural & historical heritance. Our town also has a very relaxing athmosphere, with cosy restaurants, a variety of shops and the large antique market every sunday.
Located in the area called "Haspengouw", Tongeren is also an ideal base to explore the beautiful nature and landscapes surrounding it. It is also ideally located to explore other cities as Hasselt, Liege and Maastricht (the Netherlands).
I'm sure that a visit to Tongeren will be an unforgettable one !
"A very long history"
Tongeren is over 2000 years old.
It used to be inhabited by the Eburons. It was located at the crossroads of some important Roman roads. In 54 BC, during Julius Caesar's campaigns to conquer Gaul, the Romans put up their winter camp in the relatively unknown "Atuatuca". The Eburons and their leader Ambiorix, along with some other local tribes, stould up to the Romans and killed an entire Roman legion. For Caesar it was the greatest defeat in conquering Gaul. His revenge was to wipe out the entire Eburon tribe. The Romans founded the settlement Atuatuca Tungrorum, which became one of the largest Gallo-Roman towns in the 1st century. It turned into a melting pot of different cultures already in the Roman times.
In the middle ages Tongeren attracted a lot of new kinds of trades. Local crafts areas and trade quarters developed.
In the 13th century, the town wall with town gateswas built and the centre was expanded by monasteries, a beguinage and churches.
A lot of the medieval monuments are still very present in the city, as for example the Moerenpoort (marsh gate), remains of the medieval wall, ...
Nowadays Tongeren has about 30.000 inhabitants.
Recent excavations have unvailed some very important remains of the early times in our city. These gave historians a better view on the way of life and the habits of the people who lived here centuries before us. Especially findings of the Roman time are considered to be of great value.
A lot of these remains are on display in the recently re-opened Gallo-Roman museum.
More info : www.tongeren.be - http://www.toerismehaspengouw.be/citychapters.php?cityId=13
"Something special in summer 2009 !!!"
Tongeren was a cradle of christianity. It was known as the first sanctuary of the Holy Virgin.
Every 7 years there are coronation celebrations, the "Kroningsfeesten". These celebrations are in honour of the miraculous statue "Causa nostrae Laetitiae".
Along with this statue, a lot of other relics are carried out in the procession.
There are 4 processions followed by 4 evening performances.
Over 3.300 participants (a new record this year !) are already preparing for a long time to make this an unforgettable experience for the over 700.000 visitors that visit Tongeren especially for these celebrations every 7 years !
Be sure to have a look at www.kroningsfeesten.be
July 5 2009 : procession at 15.00 - evening performance at 22.30
July 7 2009 : procession at 19.00 - evening performance at 22.30
July 10 2009 : procession at 19.00 - evening performance at 22.30
July 12 2009 : procession at 15.00 - evening performance at 22.30
Come to see this spectacle in 2009 or you'll have to wait for 7 years !