Banging your head against the wall?

I’ve been banging my head against a wall lately… a wall of indecision. I was planning to introduce you to the Top 10 Wonders of Brussels Wander in this post.
But recently I took a great group of people from the Aspria fitness clubs on the Wondrous Wall Wander and they enjoyed it so much that I changed my mind. Yup, today I’m focused on walls.

Living in Belgium can be a surreal experience

Aspria Wondrous Wander 12July2015Sometimes the wall analogy, combined with a very sticky piece of metaphorical red tape,best describes how you feel. Confused about processes or who to contact, you may think living in Brussels is chaotic. And that’s before you try to make sense of the layout of the city streets!

 

“The order in the chaos”

What you can’t see is the infrastructure that’s existed since the Middle Ages when Brussels became a wealthy and powerful city. What happens when a person becomes wealthy and powerful? Don’t we often see pictures of a huge house behind walls with electric gates and maybe a bodyguard or two? They build a wall around themselves and their property.

Well, so do cities.

639 First Wall Model Border Logo

An incredibly detailed model of the medieval city enclosed by the first wall in the City of Brussels Museum on the Grand-Place.

Brussels was founded in 979 on an island in the Senne River (that’s right, Brussels had a river just like Bruges… but it became so polluted the authorities buried it).

By just after 1200, Brussels was rich enough and powerful enough to build a protective wall. After all, when you build a wall, you’re creating the illusion of strength and infallibility. Just over a hundred years later, the city had grown so extensively that a second, much larger, wall had to be built.

Guess what?

Although the second wall was deliberately torn down in the 19th century, the first wall — that original 4-kilometre long stone wall from the 13th century — still survives in many places in the historic centre of Brussels.

Sometimes it’s a big (really big!) chunk of stones and in some places it’s the structure of the streets or buildings that give it away. But either way, we can follow the route of the wall to see “the order in the chaos”, as one wondrous wanderer commented.

395 Group @ Viller Wall Logo

Walls Protect Power, Wealth & Vulnerability

It may not be the Great Wall of China, but Brussels’ wall is every bit as important to the history of this city.

I’m fascinated with anecdotes that help to bring to life the 800 year-old wall and its role in people’s lives in medieval times…

…along with considering the role of metaphoric walls in our lives now, particularly those of us who have left our home country and moved to a new place.
We can actually decide how much, or how little, we’ll share with our new friends and colleagues, thus knocking down, or maintaining, our personal walls.

546 Billy Anneessens Lomo Turq border Logo

Billy the WondrousWanderPup checks out out the Anneessens Tower

The Wall Connects the Past to the Present…. and to People

Have I made you curious about taking a storytelling walk to trace the route of history through Brussels? This is a unique walk I created after researching the wall in books and the city’s archaeological documents — they don’t exist in English so you won’t find them in the tourism office.

407 Group @ Arch Turq border Logo

A Wondrous Wander is a walk that makes a great way to connect with other expats — and Belgians! — while seeing a new side of Brussels. It’s a fun idea for something different to do with visitors too.

More about the Top 10 Wonders of Brussels Wander coming soon…

Are you going to be in Brussels on Sunday, August 2nd? Why not join me for a walk on the medieval side?! I’ll help you discover another side of this quirky and often under-appreciated city.

Click on this link to get more info and buy your ticket for the Wondrous Wall Wander! 

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