The Benelux countries, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, have a rich tradition of occupation and human habitation. They are integral to the history of Western Europe. Obviously then, there are many structures worthy of inclusion in a man-made wonders list. Below are my top seven, to be followed soon by a photo album.
1. Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium. This square, without doubt one of the most elegant in all of Europe, is characterized by elaborate, gilded, guild houses. These guild houses were the headquarters of the various tradesmen in Europe at the time, and were obviously attempts to outdo the other guilds. The glorous "hotel de ville" (town hall) is also exquisite. Every other year, there is a huge display of begonias on the square which draws exceptionally large crowds.
2. Windmills, at Kinderdijk, Netherlands. This small town is famous in the Netherlands for its complex of nineteen windmills, used to drain the area. The windmills were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997. They are popular because these Dutch icons are fast disappearing from the modern landscape.
3. Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium. This landmark of Bruges, the perfectly preserved medieval town in Belgium, is the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world. Inside the church is Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child statue, one of only a few pieces from the artist outside of Italy. The church dates to the 13th century.
4. Westerkerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands. This Protestant church has the tallest steeple in Amsterdam and is the final resting place for the famous Dutch artist, Rembrandt van Rihn. The church sits very close to the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attraction.
5. Cathedral of Our Lady, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. This large church is a good example of late Gothic architecture and was built in the early 17th century.
6. Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium. This castle was built in 1180 AD. Over its existence, it has also been a courthouse and a prison.
7. Royal Palace, Brussels, Belgium. This neo-Classic building is not the Royal residence, however is used for special state functions, such as hosting foreign dignitaries, etc. The present structure dates to the late 18th century but has been significantly modified and elaborated upon since then.
Other sites considered:
Atomium, Brussels. Belgium
St Bavo’s Church, Haarlem, Netherlands
Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Cathedral of Our Lady, Tournai, Belgium
Royal Palace, Amsterdam
Peace Palace. The Hague, Netherlands
Oude Kerk, Delft, Netherlands
Het Steen, Antwerp