Why Brussels’s summers are special

Each year Brussels’s summer comes in as a kind of rewarding season after darker and cloudy days. Summers are always brighter, fresh and soft in Brussels. Once summer is here, the city becomes a very attractive place.

The green spaces house gorgeous plants blooming continuously, so that they refresh everything around us. The Belgians are famous horticulturists. Their skills are visible in the pieces of floral art in parks, private gardens and even in roundabouts.

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Summer in Brussels also means less traffic and less noise. Brussels’ inhabitants escape to different sunny destinations to enjoy summer holidays.

The days become much longer. We enjoy more daylight, in contrast with the short and cloudy winter days. 21 June is the longest day of the year and counts 16 and a half hours of daylight.

Some years ago we hosted a friend from the South and he was surprised to see that, around 10:00 o’clock in the evening, the daylight was still on.

In the summer the restaurants get more animated and attract potential clients with their fresh vegetables coming from local gardens. The beer is tastier and the large variety of Belgian beer is very tempting.

Brussels in summer is spectacular and is a tangible oasis for the people who do not escape in the South.

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Etterbeek’s Medieval Market turns 25

Etterbeek’s Medieval Market turns 25. The 25th event edition was organised in the Cinquantenaire Park of Brussels, between 2 and 4 June 2017.

The Cinquantenaire is one of Brussels’s largest parks located in the heart of the European Quarter, in Etterbeek, one of the nineteen districts of the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium.

Exhibitors from other countries joined the event.

The event purpose is to help visitors (re)discover the world of the Middle Ages, its folklore, food, fashion styles and other traditions.

Tea herbs and spices of all kinds

Macarons of all flavours and colours

 

 

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When the engine has not  been invented yet

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Beautiful medieval decorations

Related articles

The 23rd edition of Etterbeek’s Medieval Market in 2015:

25.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market: A short journey to the Middle Ages
25.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market 2015: Medieval Glazed Ceramic Art
25.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market 2015: Medieval food & cooking
24.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market 2015: Medieval entertainers
24.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market 2015: Jewellery & Accessory Photo-album
24.05.2015 Etterbeek’s Medieval Market 2015: Costume Photo-album

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Ground-breaking Baja Sardinia

Baja Sardinia was our holiday home for a number of days. We managed to go and see La Maddalena Island and its homonym town, Santa Maria Island, Budelli Island, Spargi Island, Arzachena and Porto Cervo.

This does not mean that we had no time to explore Baja Sardinia. On the contrary, we enjoyed long hiking hours in the breath-taking natural settings of the village. We also had the chance of admiring beautiful Sardinian ceramics.

We chose Baja Sardinia for its strategic location, which is a central point to the places we wanted to explore during our holidays.

Baja Sardinia is actually a modern village on the coast of a bay, which faces La Maddalena Archipelago. It counts about 150 permanent inhabitants. The buildings are surrounded by large green areas, with beautiful trees, bushes and flowers. The village buildings features certain architectural elements inspired from the style of its neighbour, Porto Cervo.

Before leaving Brussels we were warned that the village is wide-open and favours winds and currents like nowhere else. But that was not the case. The weather was great, neither cold nor too hot and not windy at all.

We immediately noticed the beaches with fine white sand. The sea water colours pass through unusual rich chromatic variations, from transparent blue, turquoise, azure turning into emerald.

The village was built from scratch by Domenico Gentili, in 1961, on an entirely wild area. In addition to roads, water supply system and power, Gentili reforested the area. The buildings came into the picture, one after the other. Today Baja Sardinia looks like an oasis.

We are planning to come back one day. We would like to explore more the mysterious Nuraghic culture of Sardinia. We would like to visit a nuraghe, a Bronze-age people house in stone with no written traces today.

The Nuraghic culture of Sardinia is certainly connected to the old civilisations of Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire.

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Amazing Sardinia: Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda’s heart

With a status of a village benefiting from a worldwide fame as a luxury holiday destination, Porto Cervo is considered the heart of the Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. The village is permanently inhabited by about 420 people only. The figure increases if we consider people with a summer residence in Porto Cervo.

Why is worth visiting Porto Cervo?

  1. A particular architecture

With its feel and look Porto Cervo seamlessly integrates into the Sardinian cultural context, although critics say that it is an artificial mix of architectural styles with strong kitsch signs.

The village centre stays on a mezzanine floor facing the harbour. The buildings feature a dominant Moorish architectural style taking influences from the styles of the neighbouring countries and regions. The Moorish style took its name from the Moors, who developed this particular architecture earlier in the Middle Age. The Moors lived in North Africa, the nowadays Spain, Portugal, Sicily, South of France and Malta. Today we can admire buildings in Moorish style in all these countries and regions.

At a glance the architectural style is based on a perfect geometry of forms with horseshoe arches, decorative elements reflecting vegetal elements and beautiful calligraphy. The building exterior is simple while the interior is richly decorated with geometric patterns in bright colours.

We were impressed with the buildings’ rustic walls and their irregular corners, granite flours, natural colours and raw wood components which make the village an authentic place.

The village centre houses most of the famous worldwide brands, which are present here with their luxury goods in the shop windows. They came to the right place as the village is the ideal holiday destination for many rich people.

  1. Chiesa Stella Maris, a beautiful Church on top of the village

Although it looks like a Gaudi masterpiece, the Stella Maris Church was designed by the Italian architect Michele Busiri Vici. It was built between 1968 and 1969.

The Church location enables a panoramic view over the entire bay of the Porto Cervo Harbour.

The Church impresses with its indoor simplicity, in contrast with the outside wealth and opulence of the village. The presence of granite stones and juniper wood furniture brings the Church closer to the Sardinian mountains and forests, with their particular juniper smell.

The Church houses El Greco’s masterpiece Madone (Mater Dolorosa).

 

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El Greco’s masterpiece Mater Dolorosa (Madone)

The Church bell tower stays on a cone shape while its windows are framed with beautiful decorations. The granite, the most famous stone of Sardinia, is also used on the Church floor.

  1. A deer shaped harbour

Porto Cervo, or Deer’s Port in English, bears the name from the harbour shape, which is a deer. It was built by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV who persuaded other investors to join him to finalise this construction project.

It is said that Porto Cervo is one of the top Mediterranean well-equipped harbours.

Porto Cervo is a captivating place which, I am sure, charms each and every visitor as it did with us.

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Amazing Sardinia: Arzachena, a cradle of ancient civilisation

We arrived to Arzachena after lunch. The town was very quiet, in a sleeping mood. All shops were closed and all streets appeared to be empty. We realised that it was the siesta moment and we were right. Everything came back to normal around 5 p.m.

Arzachena preserves traces of human life since the early period of humankind. We found out that Arzachena is known as the cradle of the humankind prehistory, as the place is linked to the pre-Nuragic and Nuragic Civilisations in Sardinia.

Today in Sardinia and even in Arzachena one can see “nuraghe”, which are megalithic constructions considered the most important traces of ancient times in Europe. In addition to nuraghe, Sardinia also preserves a number of relevant monuments of that period: water sacred temples, tombs of the giants, sandstone sculptures and bronze statues.

Historians claim that Arzachena is referenced in Homer’s Odyssey.

The nowadays town developed around the Santa Maria della Neve Church and is built on a granite hill. The first bricks of the new location were laid down by Carlo Emanuele III, King of Sardinia. The King intended to repopulate the area.

We visited two churches: Santa Maria della Neve and San Pietro.

Santa Maria della Neve Church

Santa Maria della Neve is made out of granite and was built around 1770 under Carlo Emanuele III King of Sardinia and Vittorio Amedeo III of Savoia. The community of Arzachena settled around this church.

The Church was renovated and extended around 1860.

The Bell Tower is impressive and consists of four bells. The Church houses a granite stoup, a marble baptistery, a wooden confessional and a wooden altar from the 17th century.

San Pietro Church

San Pietro Church was open in 1938 and is also made out of granite. The building features the Italian Rationalism style.

The Church served as a military hospital during the World War II.

We left Arzachena in the evening going back to Baja Sardinia, our holiday headquarters.

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Amazing Sardinia: Its traditional ceramic art

We went to many places abroad over the past 35 years. One of the first things we did was to look for the local traditional ceramic. The ceramic art of any place speaks itself about the local culture and its symbols. These symbols share a cultural story in a nutshell as soon as they are turned into decorative elements.

Each ceramic art style is, of course, an icon of a place. It would be difficult to rate and classify the styles. It would also be unfair to say which one is the best or which one is the most beautiful. But people may have favourite styles, which relate to personal preferences and tastes.

Photos: Our favourite ceramic collection featuring the Sardinian lapwing

Cultures should not be rated or classified in groups such as major, minor and more or less important. This also applies to ceramics.

The ceramic art is closer to my heart because I grew up in a village. The first tools and instruments around me were ceramic items: mugs, plates, different recipients for cooking, jars, bowls, recipients for wine and even recipients for pickles.

While visiting Sardinia we immediately noticed the ceramic styles of the Island. Who could not notice those beautiful pieces of traditional art?

The Sardinian ceramic styles stand out and each Island region has got its own artistic identity. All styles have a common feature: they depict forms and shapes in natural colours inspired by the Island environment, including fish, corals, birds, sheep, cows and plants.

The Sardinian ceramists manage to preserve their ancient technique despite the modern tools available today. They do a great job of not turning their work into pieces of kitsch and of preserving the traditional authenticity of their handcrafts.

Our favourite Sardinian ceramic collection features the Sardinian lapwing, gently touched up with lines and glaze layers of various thickness sizes. Colour wise the Lapwing collection combines the blue-turquoise-emerald variations of the sea and the deep and soft green of the forests.

According to local believes, the lapwing symbolises the fertility of the harvests.

Photos: Other beautiful ceramic pieces we saw in Sardinia

The Lapwing collection, our favourite Sardinian ceramic collection, is produced by Artigianatopasella, in Sardinia.

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Amazing Sardinia: La Maddalena Archipelago by boat

We fell in love with Sardinia’s La Maddalena Archipelago National Park as soon as the boat left Baia Sardinia to tour the Park for one day.

Established in 1994, the Park covers about 180 km coastline and consists of about 60 islands. Some of them are famous worldwide for a number of features that make them unique: La Maddalena, Caprera, Budelli, Razzoli, Santa Maria, Spargi and Santo Stefano.

The Park houses about thousand plant species and a rich fauna. As a famous Geo-marine protected area, the Park’s plants and fauna depend on a number of key factors: wind, sun exposure, dryness, soil properties and altitude. The Park also accommodates trans-Saharan migratory birds.

The Park has been a strategic point, which over the centuries was of interest to Napoleon, Nelson and Garibaldi.

The translucent water colour changes from transparent blue to turquoise, azure and emerald.

We stopped on the islands of La Maddalena, Santa Maria and Spargi.

La Maddalena is the name which is equally borne by the archipelago, the island and the town located on the island.

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La Maddalena Island

Santa Maria Island is located between the Razzoli and Budelli Islands and it has a surface of only 2 square km and a perimeter of about 10 km.

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Santa Maria Island

We admired the Budelli Island and its pink beach from about 70 meters from the shore, from the boat, as it is forbidden to walk on the beach and swim.

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The Budelli Island and its pink beach

The Spargi Island was our third stop while touring Sardinia’s National Park of La Maddalena. If the other islands we visited before charmed us with their natural settings, the Spargi Island and its particular beauty was breath-taking.

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The Spargi Island

On our way back to Baja Sardinia, the headquarter of our holiday, we had the chance of admiring Capo d’Orso (the Bear Rock) naturally shaped by the wind, Lo Scoglio Bianco, Santo Stefano Island and its lighthouse.

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Capo d’Orso

We will, for sure, get back to again explore La Maddalena Archipelago National Park by boat and enjoy its unforgettable natural beauty.

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Lo Scoglio Bianco

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Santo Stefano Island and its lighthouse

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Baja Sardinia’s lighthouse

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Club Hotel in Baja Sardinia

In addition to the visual unique experience of seeing unusual water colours and beautiful landscapes, we also felt the natural perfumes of wild herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano.

All of these make the place an iconic “Dolce Italia” which we will remember for ever.

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