Sunday, 9 February 2014



This little town in the Ardennes gave it name any place having  a source of natural healing water.

Wikipedia tells us :

As the famed site of healing cold springs, Spa has been frequented as a watering-place since as early as the 14th century. Though other sources of healing mineral springs have become famous throughout the world, it is the town of Spa which has become eponymous with any place having a natural water source that is believed to possess special health-giving properties, as a spa. Since the eighteenth century casinos have also been located in the town.
In 1918, the German Army established its principal Headquarters in Spa, and it was from here that the delegates set out for the French lines to meet Marshal Foch and sue for peace in the consultations leading up to the Armistice which ended the First World War. In July 1920 it hosted the Spa Conference, a meeting of the Supreme Council. German delegates were invited to this to discuss war reparations.
The town is close to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, (actually today located in Stavelot) which hosts the annual Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. It is also the location of mineral water producer Spa.
Agatha Christie's fictional detective Hercule Poirot was born in Spa.



Coo Waterfall


Until the 18th century, the River Ambleve in Belgium formed a huge curve in the village of Coo.  The curve was so great that the banks of the river were virtually touching at one point although one side was higher than the other, quite a strange phenomenon.    Sometime in the 18th century, it is said, monks from nearby Stavelot Abbey broke the river banks where they were touching and thus created a picturesque waterfall, making an even greater phenomenon.  The village has certainly benefited in that it is now firmly on the tourist trail.


 Scherpenheuvel Well


A well, housed in a very fine building, was built in 1632 at Scherpenheuvel in the Limburg district of Belgium to provide water for the village.  The well is 54metres deep and holds 8 metres of water.  In use until the beginning of the 20th century, the water was lifted by turning a 3 metre diameter wheel, and this huge wheel was turned by being treaded by two people!  The people paid for the water and if they helped with the pumping they paid only half price.



The Lion of Gillepe


A huge dam was  built near Verviers in 1878 to hold back the waters of the Gillepe, a tributary of the Vesdre which created a large reservoir to supply the area with drinking water.  One hundred years later the dam was raised to a height of 62 metres and a length of 320 metres, providing a capacity of 26 million cubic metres.  The dam is dominated by a huge stone lion constructed by A.F Boure in 1878.



Belgian  boats


Two old boats in The Ardenne have been put to further use.  One has been converted to a hotel and restaurant and the other in to a swimming pool.





The Dulle Griet


A bar in Vrijdagmarkt in Gent in is named after a huge cannon c1430 which stands on the canalside not far away.   Known in English as ‘Mad Maggie’s’, the bar boasts more than 250 different drinks and is most famous for the MAX which comes in a long glass reminiscent of a ‘yard of ale’ glass.


Apparently the owner was fed up when these special glasses kept disappearing, no doubt as souvenirs, and he came up with a scheme whereby a customer who ordered a Max, had to give up one of his or her shoes as deposit.   The shoes were deposited in a basket which was pulleyed up to the ceiling of the bar and only restored to the owner when the glass was returned.


The Manneken-Pis

 This legendary Brussels statue is known throughout the world and is possibly the greatest tourist attraction in the Belgian capital.
One story says that a rich citizen of the town had lost his son in the crowds during a festival, and the boy was found in Etuve Street having a Pee in the gutter.
Another story claims that the little boy saved the town by Peeing onto the flames lit by enemies who were intent on destroying the place.
Either way the little boy was immortalised in bronze, and has stood on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve since 1619.  Although  stolen on several occasions, the statue has always been recovered.   The Manneken has been presented with some 450 costumes which are worn on certain days and during major festivals, wine or beer spurts from the statue instead of the usual 70 litres of water per hour.







The Holy Blood

The most important shrine in Brugge in Belgium, The Basilica of the Holy Blood, is tucked away in a corner of the square known as The Burg.  It is named after a holy relic which found its way to Brugge in the Middle Ages, namely a few drops of blood and water washed from the body of Christ, by Joseph of Arimathea, contained in a small phial. The phial is kept in the tiny treasury in a large silver tabernacle.
This object of great veneration is carried through the town on Ascension Day in a colourful but solemn procession.





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