Brussels in Renaissance times

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Ommegang 2014

Once again this year from May through September during the Charles V Festival, Brussels brings back the Renaissance spirit with its artistic and scientific innovations. On this occasion fifteenth century European history and heritage will be in the spotlight thanks to a full schedule of festive, cultural, and family activities planned for different locations throughout the Brussels-Capital Region.
The festive and historical Charles programme is incorporated into the “European routes of Emperor Charles V” network. This historical and tourist route is recognised by the Council of Europe’s European Institute of Cultural Routes. It combines the places that marked the reign of Charles V and the cities through which he travelled. This year we are commemorating the 150th anniversary of Charles de Coster’s Ulenspiegel, a masterful work of Brussels literature set in the old Netherlands at the time of Charles V and his son.

Carolus Festival _ Coudenberg _ Family day

Now here is a preview of the must-see events of this edition:
Exhibition/route: Remigio Cantagallina, an Italian traveller in the Southern Netherlands
More than 400 years ago, a Florentine artist named Remigio Cantagallina journeyed across Europe to present himself at the court of Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabelle in Brussels. His reasons for making this trip have been the subject of meticulous research straddling history and art history. During his 1612-1613 stay in the old Southern Netherlands, he produced a number of drawings which constitute a unique record to this very day. These small drawings have been enlarged and staged in the underground ruins of the old Coudenberg Palace. Immerse yourself in the cities of the old Netherlands and time-travel between Brussels, Temse, and Spa. These drawings belong to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium’s collection, which is displaying a selection of original works especially for this occasion.

Diner of the Ommegang Р© E. Danhier

THE ERASMUS HOUSE, a 500 year-old abode
The Erasmus House, one of Brussels’ oldest homes (1515), brings together a collection of paintings (Holbein, Bosch, and Metsys) in a restored period interior, a rich library with thousands of old titles, and a Philosophical Garden all in one place.
A letter signed by Charles V will be on special display throughout the festival.
Treasure hunts for children: Travelling with Erasmus (ages 6 – 9) – On the Erasmus trail (ages 10 – 12).

Diner of the Ommegang Р© E. Danhier

– Family Day (21 May 2017)
On Family Day today’s families will travel back in time. A day full of surprises awaits them at Coudenberg Palace. On the schedule: games and themed workshops, a period buffet, crossbow shooting, encounters with Ommegang characters, introductory dance classes, and guided tours. It’s a delightful opportunity to travel back in time and learn among family and friends.

Ommegang 2014

– Ommegang Week (5 – 8 July 2017)
On Wednesday, 5 and Friday, 7 July, the parade held in 1549 for Charles V and his son will take to the streets of Brussels. All told, 1,400 walk-on performers will immerse you in the period atmosphere. Charles V’s coach and his procession, comprised of musicians, dancers, horsemen, guards, standard-bearers, and more, will wind their way through city streets from the Parc de Bruxelles to Grand-Place, where the traditional show will round out a lovely day. A medieval village, market and jousting exhibition will animate this festival. Not forgetting, of course, the unmissable crossbow workshop that will be held in front of the Notre-Dame du Sablon church. All these activities and more will take the region back into the heart of the 16th century on 5, 6 and 7 July 2017.


  1. I have stayed in Brussels. They are very polite people as far as I could tell. You don’t hear a lot about Belgium. It’s a very pleasant country to spend some time roaming around!

    1. swamiupendra says:

      Thanks. Similar has been my experience during short stay in Belgium, quite memorable.

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