After your visit to the Chapel Theobaldus, walk back into the Paterstraat and stay going till you see on your right, the Korte Begijnenstraat. If you end this little street you will see in front of you the Beguinage.
Turnhout possesses one of the most beautiful and most sober Beguine convents in Belgium. It was built in the 12th century. Over the course of the years, the convent experienced some very flourishing times; then hundreds of Beguines lived here. Through the centuries the convent was ravaged several times by fire, plundering, plague and other scourges...
If you come outside the Beguinage you go to the right into the Begijnenstraat. On your left you will see the Taxandria museum. This museum takes you through a thousand years of history. Turnhout and the Kempen area are illustrated from prehistoric times up to the present. There are many finds, notable relics, important collections of coins, lace work, furniture, devotionally, archaeology, paintings and lots more of valuable objects to be found.
The museum is housed in the beautiful restored "Huis metten Thoren"...
My bf and I lived in Netherlands but we always love to trave to Turnhout to visit Utopolis for watching our favorite movie flicks. In the Netherlands we do have cinemas although the not nice part is that they have what they call "pauze"or break in English. its in the middle of the movie and its annoying for us so we always go to Belgium for movies.
Its a nice place and the ticket price every Monday is only 5 euros for any movie
First contact with historical Turnhout
Reaching Turnhout by car is entering from the road E34 motorway.It will be difficult as from now till middle 2005 because the government is rebuilding the trafic policy and structure - so many roads are blocked.
The first monument you will see is this old "Watertoren" - if it is still properly working - i do not know - but anyway - the gate to the Warande Park - center of cultural life in Turnhout.
By the way - the central train station in Turnhout is also a monument - worthed to visit !
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Het Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart
After the walk you might get interested in a look in the world of playing cards. In Turnhout is the National Museum of Playing Cards and this is one of the few in it's kind in the world as well. Basis is of course the Turnhout grafical-paper industry that exports playing cards all over the world for about one century now (Carta Mundi).
The museum shows the history of the playing cards and the games played with them all around the world. Furthermore one shows how now-a-days the cards are made and the museum houses an amazing collection of playing cards throughout the centuries in a dazzling amount of forms shapes, colours, prints and pictures.
Heilige Hart-kerk = church of the holy heart
This large brickstone church is quite modern, though one wouldn't say that. It was built only in 1903 and has a 92 meters high tower (reaching higher then the Saint Pieter on the "Grote Markt". Remarkable too are the wonderful glass in lead windows (best seen from indoors.
Like many already mentioned more modern "classics", this building was also designed by P.J. Taeymans. He was in the last part of the 19th and first decades of the 20st century, responsible for many works in the Turnhout centre.
The only watertower left in all Flanders
In the Warandestraat a tower rises up. This is a watertower, in the 19th and 20st century used to get pressure on the new water pipe system in modernised towns and villages. It amazes me somehow to find out that here in Turnhout stands the only remaining watertower in the whole of Flanders, while these buildings have been numerous around the first decades of last centure. It has been assigned a state-monument and is fully restored in the (19) eighties.
Turnhout at the old turn of the century
Turnhout, like many towns in this neighborhood on both sides of the Dutch Belgian border, tried hard to get certain industries settled in their neighborhoods. In these parts textile, shoe, tabacco and - especially for Turnhout - paper / grafical industry came in. The first mentioned however all got competed away in the 20st century by low-cost countries far far away. Leaving the heritage of industrial architecture everywhere to be seen in and around Turnhout.
Old orphinage, pressed away in a corner
When we follow the castledreef along the schools, we suddenly go left into the "Wezenstraat". "Wezen" means "Orphins" in Dutch and we will notice why when we stand in front of the old orphinage. This monumental building deserves a better place in the list of Turnhout's heritage. It is pressed away behind the ugly monstrous buildings of some officeblocks and the modern cultural centre Warande. The old orphinage only recently got the status of monument and is now restored in the grace it once should have had. The front facade is already a beautiful sight for visitors eyes.
Old iron scrap in the castle pond? NO!!!
In the castle's pond you will find a sculpture "floating" on the water. This is Rik Poot's impression of the Greek mythological figure (a nymph) Najade. It is created in 1991 and is quite constrast full with the classic castle on it's backgound.
Modern and classic go hand in hand
In the "Paterstraat" one can see exquisit examples of how Turnhout tried to combine modern architecture while renovating many old monumental buildings. The "Paterspand" (Monch's building) is perhabs the most extreme building as the outer looks of this classic house are in shrill contrast to the attached buildings and the inside.
Another remarkable building is the quite recently build (late 19th century) neo-classiscistic "Arbeidsrechtbank" (Labour Court house).
A local hero founded the grafical and paper works
One of the columns on which Turnhout's economy is thriving is the paper industry. Nobody had imagined what would grew out to be, when Corbeels and his apprantice Brepols started a printing office here. Corbeels himself however got shot by the French as he printed anti-Napoleontic pamflets in the time. His student Brepols worked on and his printing "art" of simple papers, condolences-cards, churchbooks, magazines and the now so famous playing cards, brought the Turnhout paper and grafical industri in the European top 5.
Furter into the Paterstraat in the garden of the neo-classisistic building of the "Arbeidsrechtbank" you find a memorial stone where the French put Corbeels in front of a firing squad. We then walk little back and take a street right into the world of the "Begijnen".
From monastry to institutial school
From the castle one also watches along the long facade of the monastry that belongs to the beguinage, but will not have the same impressive views then it is offering you from here. The building now, together with all other buildings stretching along the "Kasteeldreef", is a huge educational complex, in which elementairy, higher and progressive schools are housed.
A closer look at the castle's history and present
In the 12th century the dukes of Brabant had the stronghold build out to a quite large castle. In the times that "Mary of Hungary" was ruleress of the Lowlands (part of the Habsburgian empire) it was known as the "Court of pleasures" which emphasised the luxereous status of the castle. After several ups and downs the castle degenerated in the 19th century and was bought by the provincial governement in the 20st century. Now-a-days a higher court is settling in the castle, which is also the reason that just visiting it is out of the question (an unfriendly guard will attend you to that). It is possible to get a guided tour, but one has to request on first at the chairman of the courthouse, Kasteelplein 1, 2300 Turnhout.
The castle of the dukes of Brabant
Leaving the Begijnhof and going right you will suddenly stand eye to eye with the castle of the dukes of Brabant. Surrounded by water, it's strong walls rise up for many meters high and on the walls small towers and roofchapels make it a pretty sight. The castle can be seen as the start of Turnhout, as around it a small village grew out to be the capitol of the "Kempen". The dukes of Brabant were lords of quite a large territory, stretching out from South of it's capitol Brussels towards the river Maas in The Netherlands.
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