2017 Prize for Belgian Heritage Abroad

23rd of February 2018

Throughout the centuries, Belgians have left their mark all over the world, in the form of bridges, buildings, urban installations, glass windows, frescos or reserves. Often the name of the heritage site refers to Belgium and therefore raises Belgium's profile. Local governments usually take care of the conservation. The Prize for Belgian heritage abroad aims to promote this rich and often forgotten heritage. This prize does not only award the most outstanding local conservation initiatives, but is also meant to be an indirect incentive for better long-term conservation.

This year it is projects that have been submitted by our embassies in Kiev, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Rome and Madrid that have been awarded the Prize for Belgian Heritage abroad:

The Solvay site in Lysychansk, in the Loehansk region of east Ukraine, is emblematic of Belgian industrial heritage in Ukraine. Belgian capital and entrepreneurship were key drivers of industrialisation at the turn of the 19th century. This soda factory was built in 1895, at the request of Ernest Solvay. In addition to the factory itself, the site also contains several other buildings, erected by the Solvay Group, most of which have now been re-developed for new uses.

The Campo de São Bento, today re-named as the Parque Prefeito Ferraz, is a magnificent park located in the commune of Niteroi, the former capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Arsène Puttemans, a Belgian plant pathologist and landscape gardener, designed the park at the end of the 19th century, inspired by English Romanticism.

Granja Porcon is a perfect example of successful reforestation. The project covers an area of 30,000 hectares in Cajamarca, Peru. Belgian Development Cooperation launched this project in the 1970s and since then has always been closely involved. The resulting wood has provided prosperity through sustainable forestry and ecotourism for the local economy and millions of tons of CO₂ have been able to be captured. This project provides a model for land management throughout Peru.

The St. John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation in Valetta, Malta, owns an impressive collection of 29 Flemish tapestries, all of which will be exhibited in a room specially created for them in the new museum.

The Fundación Real Fábrica de Tapices in Madrid was the figurehead for Flemish tapestry-making during the Spanish occupation of Belgium (then known as the Spanish Netherlands), as well as in later years. Philippe V founded this royal tapestry workshop in 1720, attracting Flemish artisans as well as being managed by Flemish people for numerous years. Today, the Fundación continues to make and restore tapestries and plays an important role as a centre for training and documentation. The Fundación’s historical archives are one of the most important sources for the history of Flemish tapestries in Spain.