Belgium: A Feast of Flemish Art and Culture
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Tiny Belgium has produced an astounding wealth of art, from fifteenth-century panel paintings by Hans Memling and sixteenth-century genre scenes by Pieter Bruegel the Elder to powerhouse works by the Flemish Baroque master Rubens. Join us as we visit the Rubens House in Antwerp; Saint Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, home to Jan and Hubert Van Eyck's 1432 Ghent Altarpiece; Bruges' Groeningemuseum, the collections of which comprise six centuries of Flemish and Belgian art; and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, where we'll view remarkable collections of old masters, fin-de-siècle art, Magritte, and a great new attraction: Bruegel. Unseen Masterpieces.
We will immerse ourselves in all of these treasures in the company of our faculty leader, Stephanie Wiles, director of Cornell's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. An expert on prints, drawings, and paintings and deeply knowledgeable about the old masters, Stephanie will intensify our appreciation of the art we see in museums, churches, and cathedrals and will share our pleasure in the architectural and cultural heritage of Belgium—up to and including its waffles, chocolate, and beer.
Stephanie Wiles is the director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, a position she assumed upon the retirement of Frank Robinson in 2011.
Before coming to Cornell, Stephanie served as the John G. W. Cowles Director of the... > more
- Double occupancy: $5,866 per person.
- Single supplement: $425 per person.
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- See Travel links and resources.
- Activity level: Slightly strenuous. May require extended walking over uneven ground as well as the ability to climb stairs and to stand for considerable periods of time.
March 9: Depart U.S.
March 10: Arrive in Belgium
Upon arrival, meet the tour assistant and driver and depart for Antwerp by coach. Once in Antwerp, check in at the hotel and receive a short orientation tour. Lunch is on your own around the hotel, and you'll have the afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel or nearby with drinks.
Leopold Hotel (D)
March 11: Antwerp
After breakfast, enjoy a "Rubens Walking Tour" starting from the vicinity of the Scheldt, the river that brought Antwerp wealth and enabled its artists to flourish. The tour will take you past stonemasons' houses and bankers' residences into the city center.
Proceed to the impressive façade of the Cathedral of Our Lady, then venture within to admire significant artworks by Rubens, including The Resurrection of the Virgin and The Elevation of the Cross.
In the historic heart of the city, pass hip antique and fashion shops before reaching the high point: the Rubens house itself. Now a museum, Rubens' former home and studio is entered through an ornate Baroque portico. Inside, a series of period rooms are decorated with marble busts, black-and-white floor tiles, and fine furniture in the patrician style of the day and hung with reproductions of Rubens' paintings.
After lunch on your own, proceed to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp, which focuses on art from 1970 to the present.
In the evening, enjoy dinner in a local restaurant followed by an opera, ballet, or concert performance.
Leopold Hotel (B, D)
March 12: Brugge
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Brugge. Starting at the tranquil waters of the famous Minnewater, you'll follow your guide to top attractions such as Our Lady's Church—home to Michelangelo's magnificent sixteenth-century marble statue, Madonna of Bruges—and the Market Square, with its grand belfry.
Admire Bruges' beautiful Town Hall Square and the ornate façade of the Basilica of the Holy Blood, then have lunch in a local restaurant. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to peruse the shops and boutiques for souvenirs, wander down winding alleyways lined with traditional cafés, or tour Bruges' picturesque canals.
Return to Antwerp by the end of the day. Dinner on your own.
Leopold Hotel (B, L)
March 13: Ghent
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Ghent. Start the morning with a short canal boat cruise followed by a walking tour of Ghent, during which you'll learn about the city during the Middle Ages and see some of its finest architecture. Pose for photos by the Belfry of Ghent, gaze up at the Gothic towers of St. Nicholas' Church, and then stop for photos by Gravensteen Castle.
After lunch on your own, discover St Bavo's Cathedral, which houses an impressive number of art treasures, including the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Proceed to the Museum of Fine Arts of Ghent for a unique chance to see the renovation of a portion of this world-famous altarpiece.
Return to Antwerp for dinner with the group at a restaurant near the hotel.
Leopold Hotel (B, D)
March 14: Mechelen, Leuven, and Brussels
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for a morning walking tour of Mechelen, which played an important political and economic role in Europe during the fifteenth century. Then proceed to picturesque Leuven, a prominent beer brewing city and the oldest university city in Belgium.
Tour the Stella Artois Brewery, followed by a beer tasting and a lunch buffet. Afterwards, take a walking tour of the city.
Proceed to Brussels late in the afternoon and enjoy dinner on your own.
Pullman Brussels Centre Midi Hotel (B, L)
March 15: Brussels
After breakfast, depart for a panoramic tour of Brussels, from the world-famous Atomium and the magnificent Palace of Justice to fashionable Louise Square. Passing the stately Royal Palace and the Houses of Parliament, you'll arrive in the Cinquantenaire district, with its exceptional museums and splendid Art Nouveau houses.
Lunch will be a great opportunity to try Brussels' famous mussels, accompanied by delicious Belgian fries!
In the afternoon, walk through the historic center of Brussels, from the St. Hubertus galleries, over the Grand Place with the beautiful guild house gables, to the Kathelijneplein, the square with the imposing nineteenth-century stock market. Dinner on your own.
Pullman Brussels Centre Midi Hotel (B, L)
March 16: Brussels
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, where you'll see Belgian art from the fourteenth-century Flemish primitives to twentieth-century Surrealists.
You'll have a special opportunity to view Bruegel. Unseen Masterpieces, in which twelve of Bruegel's masterpieces, on display in some of the most prestigious museums in the world, are represented in high-definition detail through technology provided by the Google Cultural Institute.
Lunch on your own and afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, you'll enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel or nearby, followed by an opera, theater, or concert performance.
Pullman Brussels Centre Midi Hotel (B, D)
March 17: Depart for the U.S.
Check out after breakfast at the hotel and meet the tour assistant for the trip to the airport and your flight back home.