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Beautiful old pictures document Belgium back in 1934

Ian Smith

Belgium officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts several of the EU’s official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq mi) and has a population of about 11 million people.

Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries; it once covered a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. The region was called Belgica in Latin, after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, the area of Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, causing it to be dubbed the “Battlefield of Europe,” a reputation strengthened by both world wars.

Upon its independence, Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993.

These mesmerizing old photos were taken by Berit Wallenberg, a Swedish archaeologist, art historian, photographer, and donor.

Inside the walls of Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) in Ghent

Inside the walls of Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) in Ghent

 

Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) viewed from Place Saint Pharailde in Ghent

Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) viewed from Place Saint Pharailde in Ghent

 

Graslei (Quai aux Herbes) in Ghent

Graslei (Quai aux Herbes) in Ghent

 

Grange aux Dîmes (barn of tithes) of the monastery of Saint-Martin in Tournai. In the ground floor is the _Cinéma Vieux Tournai_

Grange aux Dîmes (barn of tithes) of the monastery of Saint-Martin in Tournai. In the ground floor is the _Cinéma Vieux Tournai_

 

Grand-Place in Tournai. In centre the medieval belfry (le Beffroi) and to the left the cathedral Notre-Dame de Tournai

Grand-Place in Tournai. In centre the medieval belfry (le Beffroi) and to the left the cathedral Notre-Dame de Tournai

 

The medieval bridge _Pont des Trous_ (_bridge of holes_) and barges in the river Schelde (L'Escaut) in Tournai

The medieval bridge _Pont des Trous_ (_bridge of holes_) and barges in the river Schelde (L’Escaut) in Tournai

 

The medieval building _Kleine Sikkel_ (Small Sickle) in 2 Nederpolder street in Ghent. The building from the early 13th century was restorded in 1912 when it got its facade in medieval style

The medieval building _Kleine Sikkel_ (Small Sickle) in 2 Nederpolder street in Ghent. The building from the early 13th century was restorded in 1912 when it got its facade in medieval style

 

The square Oosterlingenplein in Bruges

The square Oosterlingenplein in Bruges

 

View from the tower of Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) in Ghent

View from the tower of Gravensteen castle (Château des Comtes de Flandre) in Ghent

_Belgian manoeuvre_ in Tournai

_Belgian manoeuvre_ in Tournai

 

A house by the canalized lake Minnewater in Bruges

A house by the canalized lake Minnewater in Bruges

 

A tram at the church of St. Michael in Ghent

A tram at the church of St. Michael in Ghent

 

Building by a canal i Bruges

Building by a canal in Bruges

 

Building in 33, Vlamingstraat (Rue Flamande) in Bruges

Building in 33, Vlamingstraat (Rue Flamande) in Bruges

 

The building _Achtersikkel_ with at tower from about 1566, at Biezekapelstraat in Ghent

The building _Achtersikkel_ with at tower from about 1566, at Biezekapelstraat in Ghent

 

Street view of the church of St. Jacob in Ghent

Street view of the church of St. Jacob in Ghent

 

Rue Saint-Jacques street in Tournai

Rue Saint-Jacques street in Tournai

 

People in Blinde-Ezelstraat (Rue Juvée) street, towards the Burg Square in Bruges

People in Blinde-Ezelstraat (Rue Juvée) street, towards the Burg Square in Bruges

 

La Grande Boucherie, (Het Groot Vleeshuis), the medieval butchers' hall at Groentenmarkt in Ghent

La Grande Boucherie, (Het Groot Vleeshuis), the medieval butchers’ hall at Groentenmarkt in Ghent

Photos taken by Berit Wallenberg, Credit: Swedish National Heritage Board