Spirit of Renaissance in Brussels through Carolus V Festival

Ommegang 2014Brussels will be filled with the spirit of the Renaissance and its artistic and scientific innovations during the Carolus V Festival, which will run from May to September. The Festival will be shining the spotlight on Europe’s 16th-century heritage and history thanks to a schedule packed with festive, cultural and family activities dotted across the European capital. And as of this year, the Carolus V Festival is also being honoured as a European cultural route by the Council of Europe.

A look at the events in this year’s festival that are not to be missed:

  • Exhibition at the Brussels City Museum: Rebirth of an exceptional work of art: Pieter Coecke’s tapestry cartoon (until 30 April 2017)
Diner of the Ommegang - © E. Danhier
Diner of the Ommegang – © E. Danhier

The Museum is preserving an exceptional work of art: an immense picture measuring 3.40 x 3.80 m, dating back to the 16th century and featuring the martyrdom of St Paul. This large-scale picture has served as the model for tapestries by generations of weavers. It is one of the rare tapestry cartoons to have survived the passage of time.

It is currently undergoing major restoration at the hands of an international team. The restoration work is taking place live at the museum, so that visitors can watch the progress of this awe-inspiring task.

  • Exhibition at the Coudenberg: A Renaissance banquet (from 19 May to 28 August 2016)
Diner of the Ommegang - © E. Danhier
Diner of the Ommegang – © E. Danhier

A banquet is a re-enactment of princely power and a political act. People show off, are seen and also sit down to eat, but it is more than that. In the Renaissance, the art of the table took on a new meaning and spectacular preparations were made for sumptuous feasts that dreamed up ways to impress the guests. The exhibition is being held in the heart of the remains of the Coudenberg Palace, in the kitchen of the Aula Magna, the great hall of the palace. In the rooms of the museum and the Hoogstraeten hotel, visitors will discover the customs, etiquette and culinary practices of the Court.

  • Exhibition at the Museum of Medicine: “The Art of Healing in the Renaissance” (23 May to 1 September 2016)

In a tour of over 150 works of art and archaeological finds, visitors will discover medicine in the time of Charles V and the ancient, Arab and mediaeval traditions on which it was based.

  • Family Day (5 June 2016)
Ommegang 2014
Ommegang 2014

On Family Day, the Renaissance will open its doors to modern-day families. The programme at the Coudenberg Palace will be filled with festive delights: tastings, crossbow shooting, a show of medicinal plants from the new world, a meeting with historical characters, typical games of the Renaissance and even building your own model of the palace… It will be an occasion to go back in time and learn about this era in the company of your family and friends.

  • Ommegang week (5, 6 and 7 July 2016)
Ommegang 2014
Ommegang 2014

On the evening of 6 and 7 July, 1,400 performers will bring to life the spirit of the Renaissance in the centre of Brussels. Charles V’s carriage and a procession including musicians, dancers, horsemen, guards and flag carriers will parade along the city streets from the Parc de Bruxelles to the Grand Place. There, the great annual show will be staged with these characters from the past. Based on this key event, a mediaeval market and village, jousting and a crossbow shooting workshop will turn the region’s clock back to the 16th century on 5, 6 and 7 July.

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