Belgium Culture

Belgium culture starts with Belgian Monarchy, goes through saxophone, museums and comics and on to the enjoyment of  excellent food, chocolates and beers. In fact, there is no single Culture of Belgium. Belgium Culture is a fusion of Flemish culture, French culture and German culture.  A truly common Belgian cultural identity is friendliness and indulgence in life.

The latter is easy to prove with the fact that some of the best beers and chocolates are made and consumed in Belgium. Made in Belgium is a typical sign for chocolates and pralines, Trappist beers and… waffles.  But even though Belgium culture heritage is very rich, the Belgian nation has  not been around long enough to acquire any common cultural roots to which the label Belgian can be attached and made readily identifiable

The modern icons of the Belgian cultural life include world class musicians and singers. One of the most known is Helmut Lotti, Belgium’s golden voice aka “romantic voice of Europe”.

Belgium culture and history are reach with legends and popular folklore events: festivals and carnavals.
Legends of Belgium
When visiting Antwerp you will notice the statue on the main square which depicts a giant Antigone who lived in the Steen castle and terrorized the passing ships levying them with fares in gold. The giant finally met his match when Salvus Brabo, a Roman soldier, who cut off Atigone’s hand and threw it into the Scheldt River. The Brabo soldier decided to settle in the area  and soon a city was founded around the castle. The citizens called it Hand-Werpen  which translated as Throwing Hand. The name later became Antwerpen.

Today, Antwerp Diamonds, as well as  Belgium chocolate and waffles are Belgium major cultural tags and ttrademarks.

Most Belgians would not be able to suggest you a recipe of Brussels Waffels or Liege Waffels,  but still they are seen worldwide as the Waffle experts.  Of course, waffles are not Belgian primary food but it’s certainly a big part of Belgium culture.

Belgian society is very strict in following traditions but even more, Belgians are strict with complying with recipes. Nobody else in the world can produce chocolate pralines so delicious as Belgian private confectioneries. The same can be said about Belgium beers which people often think are their local brands, such as famous Belgian Stella Artois, Lefffe or Hoegaarden. Belgium beers will probably always remain part of the Belgium traditions and culture.

bruegel the flemish peasant wedding, painted 1568The Belgian identity spirit perfectly painted by the famous Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel in his paintings of weddings and festivities. Belgium culture might not be centered on festivities but Belgians certainly appreciate good food and wine. In fact, Belgium has more holidays in its calendar then any other country in Europe.

Belgians are also known as a cheerful and lukewarm audience. Concert performers have it not easy with an audience that is not keen on participating unless really motivated. Many musicians and singers say that if a singer or a music band can make it successful in Belgium, they will most likely be appreciated anywhere else in Europe.

Belgium culture is vividly represented in Belgium Art. Belgian nation has produced the Surrealist painters Rene Magritte and Paul Delvaux. The Belgians where at the forefront of the avant-garde in the late XIX century, hosting exhibitions by Cezanne even before he was fashionable in his own country.

Belgium culture in architecture is  marked largerly by Victor Horta whose first Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels were the Tassel House at Rue Janson 6, commissioned then by a professor, and the Autrique House at Chaussée de Haecht 266, commissioned by a lawyer. In 1893, both patrons asked Victor Horta to design a home for them, establishing the Belgian architect as the leading architect of the Art Nouveau movement.

Belgium art culture is also represented by a great variety of museums. The most impressive of the Belgium art museums is the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The museum’s permanent collection of over 7,000 works is one of the most important art collections in Europe. It has unique paintings by Flemish Primitives such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, as well as the work of Quinten Matsys , the founder of the Antwerp School which was later run by one of the World’s famous painters Peter Paul Rubens whose works you will find in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.  Belgium culture heritage includes other famous museums such as Groeningemuseum, in Bruges, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, which, besides art collections of different periods including René Magritte artworks, has a cinema, a concert hall.

A real treasure of Belgian culture heritage is the Plantin-Moretus Museums in Antwerp, the largest publishing house of the seventeenth century which had produced a great number of printed books read by generations of Flemish scholars.

saxophone belgium culture heritageBelgium Culture through music is a fusion of styles and the history of saxophone. One of the greatest contributions to the world of music, Adolphe Sax – the inventor of the saxophone, is a real cultural hero of Belgium. Less prominent, but still quite famous are jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel. Rock and pop music of Telex, Front 242, K’s Choice, Hooverphonic, Zap Mama, Soulwax and dEUS are also known beyond Belgium.

Belgium Hergé comics TintinOne of the few arts where Belgium has had an international and enduring impact in the twentieth century, comics are known to be an integral part of Belgium culture. Belgian comics are a distinct subgroup in the comics history. And, while many scholars point to a Francophone Swiss, Rodolphe Töpffer, as the true father of comics, the Belgian comics by Hergé’s known as The Adventures of Tintin have made a real contribution  to the Belgium and world culture.

Famous Belgian Comic characters Tintin, Marsupilami, Smurfs, Suske en Wiske, Blake and Mortimer have travelled the World making Belgium the mekka of the comics culture.

The modern culture life of Belgium is rich with music festivals and art events, but indulgence in life (or genieten van het leven as they say in Flanders) remains the most common real trademark of Belgium’s culture.

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