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Open Monument website launched in Flanders
Following another successful edition of Open Monument Day in Flanders, heritage minister Geert Bourgeois has launched an Open Monument Card and the website openmonumenten.be. The card offers all kinds of cultural benefits, while the website allows visitors to search for interesting sites to visit.
Anyone can become a member of Open Monuments, which comes with an UiTPAS card. It costs €25 and includes a free entry to one of many monuments or historical sites, like the Botanic Garden Meise, the Ten Duinen Abbey Museum in Koksijde or the imposing Laarne Castle.
The card also allows discounts to other monuments and sites in Flanders and comes with the coffee table book Samen Monumenten Vieren (Celebrating Monuments Together), which details the stories behind 30 monuments.
“This card should get people more interested in our monuments,” says Bourgeois. “In the last legislative period, we invested a record amount of €415 million in monuments and historical sites. With a package of fiscal incentives and initiatives, we are making conscious choices for the preservation and archiving of our monuments. We are celebrating this now under the motto: ‘Every day is Open Monument Day’.”
To that end, the website allows visitors to sign up for the Monument Card as well as do searches on what is available to visit according to criteria, such as location, type of monument and activities. There is also a map of monuments to visit.
The 30th anniversary edition of Open Monument Day took place last Sunday and saw 400,000 visitors. Some 500 monuments and historical sites opened up spaces normally closed to the public, gave special tours and hosted activities. Historical buildings not normally open to the public at all – such as private homes and workplaces – also opened their doors.
Mechelen reported seeing 10,000 people coming through its monuments – the number it usually sees in a whole year. Ten open villas in De Panne attracted 5,000 people, while the begijnhof in Hasselt counted 1,000 visitors. “Every year we think, ‘now we’ll get fewer visitors’, but no: Every time we get so many people.”
Photo: Hasselt’s beautiful begijnhof, a former community of religious women ©Nolde16/Wikipedia