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Shopping in Belgium
 
 
 
 
 

General

Whether you do your antique shopping in the stylish Brussels Sablon area, browsing through exquisite items or by flashlight early on Sunday morning at the flea market, the hunt in Belgium can be as entertaining as the purchase.

Belgium has been an important centre of the art world for centuries. Choose from museum-quality stores in major cities to antique markets in smaller towns. Belgium offers an incredible wealth of antiques, Art Deco objects, old books, fine crystals or just plain interesting artifacts. There is something for every taste and budget.

Belgian Tapestries

For over six centuries, Belgian tapestry has been a highly prized luxury craft. Tapestry designs involve weaver and artists working closely together. Painters including Rubens, produced drawings for a series of weavings of six or more on grand themes. Prized by the nobility, tapestries were portable and could be moved with the court as rulers traveled their estates. As trade grew, techniques were refined; real gold and silver were threaded into the fine wool, again increasing the value. Classical myths were popular themes for tapestry series.

Diamonds

Dazzle your loved one, or yourself by buying a diamond in the sparkling city of Antwerp. Some of the jewelers will even foot your hotel bill for the effort.

Antwerp's diamond district, the diamond centre of the world, is located right in the heart of the city. Antwerp has a long and magnificent tradition as a diamond city. It has played an important role in the diamond trade and industry ever since the 15th century.

Today it is the most important diamond trade center in the world with an annual turnover of 23 billion US dollars. More than 85% of the world's rough diamonds are traded here. In addition to a flourishing trade in uncut and unpolished diamonds, countless diamond jewelers are established here. The diamond district in Antwerp is closed on weekends.

Chocolates

The Swiss might argue the point, but the truth is that Belgian handmade chocolates, filled with various fresh-cream flavours, are the best in the universe. You can't go wrong if you buy chocolates made by Wittamer, Nihoul, Leonidas, and Neuhaus, available in specialist shops all over Belgium (and in Holland and Luxembourg, too).

Belgian Lace

The intricate lace patterns in Belgium are unmatched in any other country. The lace trade rose during the early Renaissance. Emperor Charles V decreed that lace-making should be a compulsory skill for girls in convents and beguinages throughout Flanders. Lace became fashionable on collars and cuffs for both sexes. Trade reached a peak in the 18th century.

Lace makers are traditionally women. Hundreds of craftswomen still work in Bruges and Brussels, centres of bobbin lace, creating intricate work by hand, often using over 100 threads per bobbin. Belgian lace is bought today mainly as a souvenir, but despite the rise in machine-made lace from other countries, the quality here still remains as fine as it was in the renaissance.

Lace also has its place in museums. Situated close to the Grand Place, the Musee du Costume et de la Dentelle (Museum of Costume & Lace) has a permanent collection of fine lace. Displayed in subdued lighting and safely laid out in drawers, this beautiful collection contains pieces made on the spindle and with needles, not only from Brussels but also from France and Italy. The bourgeois costumes the lace was made for are also on show in thematic exhibits.

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