Tongeren, a place to revisit

On behalf of all participants I would like to thank Emile for the initiative he took to make us discover and enjoy the rich historic and cultural heritage of one of Limburg’s most beautiful and Belgium’s oldest town, Tongeren.

The statue of Ambiorix, the leader of the local Gallic tribe who gave Julius Caesar a lot of headaches (“Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae”).

We started our day by an audio-guided walk through the amazing archaeological site at the Teseum where we were told about the rich history of Tongeren, its citizens and their church which became the magnificent Basilica of Our Lady that we can admire today. A history that stretches back over 2000 years , starting with the city as an important Roman town in the Low Countries. At the Teseum’s Treasure Chamber we  could not but admire the stunning array of religious art treasures many laden with gold and silver.

Following a more than tasty lunch at  a brasserie located in the old infirmary of Tongeren’s beguinage we embarked upon a guided city walk during which much attention was paid ,and with good reason ,to this beautiful and special part of the city. Beguines were living in Tongeren since the beginning of the 13th century and over the ages established themselves in a city within the city. At its zenith in the 18th century , the Sint Catharina beguinage consisted of 300 beguines living in 100 houses. As testified by all participants, the beguinage, now a UNESCO world heritage site, continues to enchant visitors by its cobble-stoned streets , its tranquil courtyards , its picturesque houses, churches and chapels.

But the highlight of our walk was of course  the Basilica of Our Lady one of the most beautiful and impressive gothic religious buildings in Belgium and housing the famous statue of the Virgin Mary and the origin of the Seven-Year Coronation Celebrations

Following the guided walk many of us decided to reflect and exchange and share impressions on this successful outing while having a farewell drink on one of the terraces on the main market square under the watchful and approving eye of Ambiorix , the king of the Eburones.

Staring at the fierce- looking warrior more attentively,  it was as if he enjoyed seeing us in a jolly mood and  hoped to see us  return soon to his home town  for another visit. Was it the beer….. Perhaps… Whatever it was I do not know . But what I do know is that Tongeren certainly  lends itself for another visit in group or individually. And there is indeed no shortage of choices: the Gallo- Roman museum with its rich permanent interactive collection and high-quality thematic exhibitions, a walk on the medieval city wall or just strolling trough the famous antiques market on a sunny Sunday morning ( it goes without saying that early birds get the most interesting treasures)

Thanks again to Emile for his efforts and his unrelentless commitment and drive towards our association.

André Ceulemans

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