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Heritage Days bring 40,000 cultural visits in one weekend

Photo from the office of Pascal Smet.

This weekend the Brussels Capital Region held its 33rd edition of Heritage Days, or Open Monuments Days, in which 142 cultural sites in the city held activities around a central theme of “Meeting Points.”

Participating sites included cafés, restaurants, ballrooms, banquet halls, theatres, government offices, private salons, reception areas, museums and more, according to a press release from Pascal Smet, State Secretary for Town Planning and Heritage.

“This edition of Heritage Days/Open Monuments Days was again a success,” Smet said.

“Over 40,000 visits were registered over two days. That is very encouraging and shows once again the enduring appeal of our heritage.”

Visitors came from all over the city and from other regions and even countries, Smet said, noting that nearly 30 percent of material downloaded or requested was an English-language version.

“Brussels is definitely an international city,” Smet said. “We draw our conclusions and will organise more guided tours in English starting next year – quite a challenge.”

He said that the strong turnout reflected “the essential need for each of us to meet physically, to explore and to exchange.”

Many of the places that participated in the weekend’s Heritage Days are rarely or even never open to the public, including the French and Spanish Embassies in Belgium, the Great Synagogue of Brussels, Aegidium Hall and the Hotel of the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium.

Some of the most popular attractions were the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, the Palace of Justice, Val Duchesse, the Royal Monnaie Theatre and the various Parliament buildings.

“The programme was full this year. Never before has mobilisation been so important,” said Bety Waknine, Director General of Urban.

Some of the activities held for the occasion included guided tours, hikes, bike and bus rides, exhibitions and rallies.

“The organisations involved in the preservation and enhancement of our heritage and the municipal services worked hard to highlight the Region’s many assets,” said a statement from the office of Smet.

“Among other things, we should note the enormous success of the bus tours, which were fully booked even before the start of the Heritage Days, as well as the rallies and bicycle circuits.”

Some of Brussels’ lesser-known sites were spotlighted for the 33rd edition, like the bakery of the Hof ter Musschen and the kitchen gardens of the Evere Mill.

“I would like to thank everyone at Urban who worked hard to make these days a real celebration,” said Smet.

“Thank you also to those who agreed to open their doors or organise an activity to help keep our heritage alive and enhance it.”

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