6 incredible facts that you didn't know about Flanders
Belgium brews more than 1,600 original beers?
Belgium is the undisputed home of beer. Our country boasts in excess of 220 active breweries that collectively brew more than 1,600 original beers. And in turn, they offer beer lovers more tha 700 flavour profiles. Whether it's a lager, Flanders red ale, geuze, wheat beer, trappist or lambic, Belgian beer outshines all others. But don't just take our word for it. UNESCO have added Belgian beer to their list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Beer is, and will forever remain, inherent to the DNA of Flanders. And today, an exciting new generation of brewers is adding a fresh, contemporary dimension to that age-old tradition. Cheers!
All of the moon's artwork comes from Flanders?
Peter Paul Rubens, Pieter Bruegel, Jan van Eyck... These are the names of those renowned Flemish artists who captivated the world with their masterpieces. The Flemish Masters had, and continue to have, a huge influence on art history on planet earth, and far beyond. Indeed, Flemish Masters aren't deterred by mere trivialities such as the stratosphere, and one Flemish artwork can even be admired on the moon. The Fallen Astronaut is an 8.5 cm tall statuette by Antwerp artist, Paul Van Hoeydonck. This ode to astronauts and cosmonauts, who sacrificed their lives for space travel, was flown to the moon by the Apollo 15 space mission in 1971. It has remained there ever since; proof that the Flemish Masters know no boundaries.
Antwerp derived its name from a giant with a severed hand?
Legend has it that, long, long ago, a giant named Antigoon plagued the city of Antwerp. He terrorised the inhabitants and demanded toll payments from ship captains crossing the river Scheldt. If they protested, the merciless Antigoon cut off one of their hands. A brave Roman soldier named Brabo remained defiant and challenged the giant in a Flemish version of David and Goliath. Brabo prevailed and took his bloody revenge by severing Antigoon's own hand and tossing it into the Scheldt. The city of Antwerp - a combination of 'hand' and 'werpen' (to throw) - derived its name from the colourful fable, which is now permanently celebrated by the Brabo fountain. This famous landmark, located on the Grote Markt in the shadow of Antwerp city hall, depicts the gruesome finale scene.
The praline was invented in Brussels?
The Belgians aren't only master beer brewers; they're also masters of that other sought-after celicacy: chocolate. In fact, this tempting sweet treat was being sold throughout the region as far back as 1635. Since then, this dark gold indulgence has made many a knee go weak and countless hearts beat faster. Brussels took chocolate to ingenious new heights, when resident Swiss Chocolatier, Jean Neuhaus, created the world's first chocolate-filled bonbon in 1912. Mr. Neuhaus named his mouthwatering concoction the 'praline' and, thanks to him, the world of confectionery has never been the same since.
The longest tram line in the world is located in Flanders?
Flanders is big in reputation, yet small in size. Which makes it ideal for exploring by public transport. The tram lines that meander through the major cities of Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent are perfect for doing just that. The Coastal Tram meanwhile, is the longest trame line in the world. Its impressive 42 miles (68 km) of track - which runs the entire length of the Flemish coastline - is the ideal way of traversing the North Sea's myriad tourist gems, from museums to mussel restaurant, to welcome spot in the sun.
Nowhere else in the world offers as many fine dining experiences?
The tiny region of Flanders boasts no less than 93 Michelin-star restaurants, affording it the highest density of first-class eateries in the world. Those wishing to take advantage of Flanders' exclusive restaurant scene certainly won't be disappointed. Yet, a Flanders culinary adventure isn't restricted to fine dining alone and there's a fantastic range of choice for every conceivable budget. With a no-nonsense restaurant on almost every corner, you'll find the cream of the Flanders crop in the Bistronomy Guide. Bon appetit!
Story created on January 9, 2019