List of World Heritage Sites in Belgium

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Location of World Heritage Sites within Belgium. Red dots are cultural sites, the green dot is a natural site. Grand Place, Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta, and the Stoclet House are all in Brussels. Not shown are the Beguinages (13 sites), the Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (4 sites), and the Belfries of Belgium and France (56 sites in both countries).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.[1] The Kingdom of Belgium accepted the convention on 24 July 1996, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the list.[2]

Currently, there are 13 sites in Belgium inscribed on the list and 16 sites on the tentative list. The first sites in Belgium to be added to the list were the Flemish Béguinages, the Grand Place in Brussels and the lifts on the Canal du Centre, all three of them inscribed at the 22nd UNESCO session in 1998.[3] Further sites were added in 1999, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2017.[2] In total, there are 12 cultural sites, as determined by the organization's selection criteria. The Sonian Forest, as a part of the extension to the site of Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, is the only natural site. Three of the sites are transnational entries.[2]

List of sites[edit]

The table lists information about each World Heritage Site:

Name: as listed by the World Heritage Committee
Location: in Belgium
Period: time period of significance, typically of construction
UNESCO data: the site's reference number; the year the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List; the criteria it was listed under: criteria (i) through (vi) are cultural, while (vii) through (x) are natural; sites meeting both criteria are categorized as "mixed sites",[4] the column sorts by year.
Description: brief description of the site
  * Transnational site
Name Image Location Period UNESCO data Description
Belfries of Belgium and France* The belfry of the Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium Belgium and Northern France 11th to 17th centuries 943; 1999, 2005 (extended); ii, iv (cultural) A total of 56 belfries are listed as World Heritage. Among them are 33 Belgian belfries: Antwerp (Cathedral of Our Lady & Antwerp City Hall), Herentals, Lier, Mechelen (St. Rumbold's Cathedral & city hall), Bruges, Diksmuide, Kortrijk, Lo-Reninge, Menen, Nieuwpoort, Roeselare, Tielt, Veurne, Ypres, Aalst, Dendermonde, Eeklo, Ghent, Oudenaarde, Leuven, Tienen, Zoutleeuw, Sint-Truiden, Tongeren, Binche, Charleroi, Mons, Thuin, Tournai, Gembloux and Namur.[5]
Flemish Béguinages View of the Groot Begijnhof in Leuven, Belgium Flanders 13th century 855; 1998; ii, iii, iv (cultural) Béguinages (French) or begijnhoven (Dutch) are collections of small buildings used by Beguines. These were various lay sisterhoods of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in the 13th century in the Low Countries, comprising religious women who sought to serve God without retiring from the world. The list includes 13 béguinages: Bruges, Dendermonde, Diest, Ghent (Klein Begijnhof, Groot Begijnhof), Hoogstraten, Kortrijk, Leuven (Groot Begijnhof), Lier, Mechelen (Groot Begijnhof), Sint-Truiden, Tongeren and Turnhout.[6]
Historic Centre of Brugge View of Bruges' city centre Bruges, West Flanders 12th to 19th centuries 996; 2000; ii, iv, vi (cultural) Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the north-west of Belgium. Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as "The Venice of the North". Bruges is economically important thanks to its port. At one time, it was considered by some to be the "chief commercial city" of the world.[7]
La Grand-Place, Brussels The Grand Place, decorated with a floral carpet City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital 1695–1699 857; 1998; ii, iv (cultural) The Grand Place is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city's Town Hall, and the Breadhouse. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. It measures 68 by 110 metres (223 by 361 ft).[8]
Major Mining Sites of Wallonia View over the Bois du Cazier mine Wallonia 19th to 20th centuries 1344; 2012; ii, iv (cultural) During the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, mining and the heavy industry that relied on coal formed a major part of Belgium's economy. Most of this mining and industry took place in the sillon industriel ("industrial valley" in French), a strip of land running across the country where many of the largest cities in Wallonia are located. The named locations of this World Heritage Site are all situated in or near the area of the sillon industriel. Mining activities in the area declined during the 20th century, and today the four mines listed are no longer operational. Nowadays they are each open to visitors as museums.[9]
Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta Internal staircase of the Tassel House, Brussels Brussels and Saint-Gilles, Brussels-Capital 19th to 20th centuries 1005; 2000; i, ii, iv (cultural) The architect Victor Horta was well known for creating buildings in the Art Nouveau style fashionable at the time. Four of his most notable surviving works, Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde and Maison & Atelier Horta, are listed as World Heritage Sites.[10]
Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes View of the inside of the Spiennes mine Mons, Hainaut Neolithic 1006; 2000; i, iii, iv (cultural) The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes are Europe's largest and earliest neolithic mines, located close to the Walloon village of Spiennes, southeast of Mons. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300–2200 BC).[11]
Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai View of the Cathedral of Tournai Tournai, Hainaut 12th century 1009; 2000; ii, iv (cultural) Notre-Dame Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai. Begun in the 12th century on even older foundations, the building combines the work of three design periods with striking effect: the heavy and severe character of the Romanesque nave contrasting remarkably with the Transitional work of the transept and the fully developed Gothic of the choir. The transept is the most distinctive part of the building, with its cluster of five bell towers and apsidal (semicircular) ends.[12]
Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex View of the library of the Plantin-Moretus House Museum Antwerp, Antwerp 16th to 17th centuries 1185; 2005; ii, iii, iv, vi (cultural) The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a museum in Antwerp about early-modern printing in general and the famous printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus in particular. It is located in their former residence and printing establishment, Plantin Press, at the Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market).[13]
Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe* 20120815 Zonienwoud (6) Brussels-Capital, Flanders and Wallonia N/A 1133; 2017; ix (natural) The Sonian Forest is the only Belgian component to the multinational inscription 'Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe'. The list includes 63 beech forests in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.[14]
Stoclet House Exterior of the Stoclet House Woluwe-St-Pierre, Brussels-Capital 1911 1298; 2009; i, ii (cultural) The Stoclet Palace was a private mansion built by architect Josef Hoffmann between 1905 and 1911 in Brussels, for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet.[15] It was one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the 20th century[16] and was lavishly decorated inside, including works by the artist Gustav Klimt.[17]
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement* View of the Maison Guiette Antwerp, Antwerp 1927 1321; 2016; i, ii, vi (cultural) The Maison Guiette is the Belgian component of the multinational inscription 'The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement'. The building was listed among 16 other buildings of Le Corbusier in Argentina, France, Germany, India, Japan and Switzerland.
Maison Guiette was designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in 1926 and it was finished in 1927. It served as the home and workplace of Belgian painter René Guiette. It is the only remaining building designed by Le Corbusier in Belgium. It is also known as Les Peupliers, named after the street where the building is situated.[18]
The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx View of Lift No. 3 Hainaut 1888–1917 856; 1998, iii, iv (cultural) The lifts on the old Canal du Centre are a series of four hydraulic boat lifts near the town of La Louvière in the Sillon industriel of Wallonia. Along a particular 7 km (4.3 mi) stretch of the Canal du Centre, which connects the river basins of the Meuse and the Scheldt, the water level rises by 66.2 metres (217 ft). To overcome this difference, the 15.4-metre lift at Houdeng-Goegnies was opened in 1888, and the other three lifts, each with a 16.93 metres (55.5 ft) rise, opened in 1917.[19]

Tentative list[edit]

In addition to the sites inscribed on the World Heritage list, member states can maintain a list of tentative sites that they may consider for nomination. Nominations for the World Heritage list are only accepted if the site was previously listed on the tentative list.[20] As of 2019, Belgium lists 18 properties on its tentative list.[21]

Name Image Location UNESCO data Description
Ghent historic town centre Gravensteen, Gent Ghent, East-Flanders 856; 2002; ii, iv (cultural)
Antwerp historic town centre Gildehuizen, Antwerpen Antwerp, Antwerp 857; 2002; ii, iv, vi (cultural)
Historic buildings of the University of Leuven 2011-09-24 17.42 Leuven, universiteitsbibliotheek ceg74154 foto4 Leuven, Flemish Brabant 1712; 2002; ii, iii, iv, vi (cultural)
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital 5355; 2008; ii, iv (cultural)
Bloemenwerf by Henry van de Velde Bloemenwerf – Henry Van de Velde – 1896 Uccle, Brussels-Capital 5356; 2008; i, ii (cultural)
Palace of Justice Palais de Justice from Hilton City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital 5357; 2008; i (cultural)
High Fens landscape Fagne.Ardenne Liège 5358; 2008; v (cultural)
Roman road from Bavay to Tongeren Chaussée Marie-Thérèse.1 Belgium 5359; 2008; iii, iv (cultural)
Prince-Bishops' Palace Palais_des_Princes-Evêques Liège, Liège 5361; 2008; ii, iii (cultural)
Battlefield of Waterloo Braine-L%27Alleud_-_Butte_du_Lion_dite_de_Waterloo Braine-l'Alleud, Walloon Brabant 5362; 2008; ii, iii, vi (cultural)
Battle of Waterloo Cyclorama Panorama de la Bataille de Waterloo 03 Braine-l'Alleud, Walloon Brabant 5364; 2008; i, ii, iv, vi (cultural)
The Mosane Citadels 0 Dinant – La citadelle (1) Wallonia 5365; 2008; ii (cultural) Includes the citadelles in Dinant, Namur and Huy.
Hoge Kempen landscape Hoge Kempen 030 Limburg 5623; 2011; iv, vi, viii (cultural and natural)
Koloniën van Weldadigheid (Agricultural pauper colonies) Antwerp 5841; 2013; v, vi (cultural) Together with The Netherlands. In total 7 colonies were selected for the list, among them are the colonies of Merksplas and Wortel in Belgium.
Cemeteries and memorials of the Great War* Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery Belgium and France 5886; 2014; iii, iv, vi (cultural) Together with France. A total of 105 elements were selected for the list in France and Belgium. 25 sites are situated in Belgium.
Great Spas of Europe* Spa JPG01 Spa, Liège 5932; 2014; ii, iii, iv, vi (cultural) Collaboration with Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom. The city of Spa is selected to be part of the property.
Neanderthal Fossil Sites in Wallonia

Entrée de la Grotte de Spy

Wallonia 6398; 2019; iii, iv (cultural) Inscription includes the Schmerling Caves in Flémalle, the Sclayn Cave in Andenne, the Goyet Caves in Gesves and the Spy Cave in Jemeppe-sur-Sambre. On the included sites important Neanderthal fossils were found which contributed heavily in the research to the Neanderthal human.
Hospital Our Lady with the Rose Le cloitre de l'Hôpital Notre-Dame à la Rose de Lessines Lessines, Hainaut 6399; 2019; iii, iv (cultural)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNESCO World Heritage Centre The World Heritage Convention". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Belgium". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Report of the Rapporteur". UNESCO. 29 January 1999. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  4. ^ "The Criteria of Selection". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 12 June 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Belfries of Belgium and France". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Flemish Béguinages". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Historic Centre of Brugge". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  8. ^ "La Grand-Place, Brussels". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Major Mining Sites of Wallonia". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 13 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Plantin-Moretus House-Workshops-Museum Complex". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 21 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  15. ^ Sharp, Dennis (2002). Twentieth Century Architecture. Mulgrave: Images Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-86470-085-5. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2015. pp.44
  16. ^ Watkin, David (2005). A History of Western Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85669-459-9. Archived from the original on 15 May 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2015. pp.548
  17. ^ "Stoclet House". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 21 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  18. ^ "The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 24 November 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  19. ^ "The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Tentative Lists". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  21. ^ "Tentative List – Belgium". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.

External links[edit]