Belgium’s Heritage Days coincided with Mobility Week and Car Free Sunday 2018 so Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde strapped on helmets, hopped on their bikes and led their children on a ride to one of Brussel’s local heritage sites.
Taking place in Brussels and other cities across Europe from 16 to 22 September 2018, Mobility Week is an annual event which aims to enlighten people to the vast and varied alternatives to driving, such as cycling, taking the train, streetcar or buses, and even skates. This year’s Car Free Sunday saw the whole of central Brussels closed to traffic from 9:30 am until 7 pm and a number of events around town to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
The Heritage Days were held on 15 and 16 September this year under the theme of “Heritage, that’s us!”. The theme was after the Brussels-Capital region set itself a challenge as part of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage to ask the citizens about their heritage, effectively encouraging them to write their own programme for Heritage Days 2018. Over one hundred projects were submitted to the Monuments and Sites Directorate, and of these, 95 were selected by the jury to make up this year’s programme.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were joined on their bike ride by their two youngest children – Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore – and were dressed casually as they cycled to Les Atelier des Tanneurs.
Recently rehabilitated into event spaces and a business centre, Les Atelier des Tanneurs occupies a vast structure in the Art Nouveau style which was once home to the Palace of Wine (a family wine business) and family-owned department store Les Atelier des Tanneurs. The site now plays host to approximately sixty local companies and gives priority placement to small start-up structures that promote eco-responsible values.
The King, Queen, Prince, and Princess undertook a guided tour of the historic building complex before visiting one of the shops which offers a wide variety of sustainable products.