Try entering Belgium cities in Google. Lier is only a 33rd option in the list of Belgian cities. It took us nine months and visiting most of the cities ranked above until we heard about this city. Actually, it was P. who caught a glimpse of an image of an interesting tower clock in the Image Search. 😂 Finally, after some convincing, L. agreed to visit this place that we never knew existed. Once we did that – we were more than pleased with our decision!
Lier is a part of Antwerp province. So, as you may guess, it is not far away from one of the greatest cities in Belgium – Antwerp. To be precise, it is 30 kilometers away from the capital of the province and also 50 kilometers away from the capital of Belgium – Brussels. Safe to say, it is in a pretty convenient location. That is why my amazement continues to grow.
If we quickly look into Liers’ history, it is also not one to ignore. In 1496 it was a scene of a significant marriage in European history. Right here Philip the Handsome married Joanna of Castile. Later their son Charles V, though born in Ghent, ruled over the combined Austrian & Spanish empires.
In addition, this was the place where in 1860 the first mammoth in Western Europe was found! A fucking mammoth, for crying out loud!!! Excuse my language, but I just cannot stress my amazement enough!!! 😂 How come I have never ever heard about this city before?!!! Anyway, let us continue.
The Zimmer Tower
To introduce our trip around this city let us begin with the thing that attracted our attention in the first place – the Zimmer Tower.
Now, in my life time, I have seen many clock towers. Every self-respected city has one. Lier is no exception in that case. Except it has the coolest clock tower ever. Period.
Of course, it would be rude of me not to explain more about this tower. First of all, the Zimmer Tower is so unique that it even impressed the great Albert Einstein. He personally congratulated the architect behind this clock Louis Zimmer for creating such an amazing piece of art and science altogether.
Here are some facts of what this clock does and has. The clock shows: the equation of time, the zodiac, the week, the solar cycle, the earth spinning, the months, the calendar dates, the age of the moon, the phases of the moon, the tides and something that is the Metonic cycle and the epact. Additionally, I will have to do some copy-pasting as I am not even sure what I am reading.
Around one of these dials moves the slowest pointer in the world – its complete revolution will take 25800 years, which corresponds to the period of the precession of the Earth’s axis.
Finally, there is a planetarium inside. 😁 Unfortunately for us, by the time we got there, the clock was closed. Nonetheless, it is probably the most interesting building I have ever seen in my life! I am pretty sure that there are more significant buildings like that around the world but in addition, I also just loved how this building looks by itself. You could probably write a separate post for the Zimmer Tower alone.
Walk around Lier
As we usually do, we park somewhere near the cities’ main Town Square or the Grote Markt in the local language. To tell you the truth, it is far from being the most picturesque place in the city, though it is pretty nonetheless.
We walked towards the Rechtestraat, where there is a beautiful bridge from which you can take beautiful pictures of canals. This city does not have as many canals as many other highly anticipated Belgian cities, but we really enjoyed the ones we found here.
From there we started to desperately look for the Zimmer Tower, which we mentioned before. While not agreeing which turn to take, we got a chance to walk around a lot. And we loved every bit of what we saw. Lier fascinated us with its beautiful architecture, clean surroundings, and canals. During that moment we started to ask each other why we never heard of Lier? This city deserves to be in TOP10 cities to visit in Belgium. It is far more superior than most of the cities suggested by Google to visit in Belgium.
Eventually, we found the Zimmer Tower. As you already know we loved it, but it turned out that this city had one more surprise for us!
Begijnhoff of Lier
This place called Begijnhoff completely blew our minds. It seemed as if we have teleported ourselves to some completely different well-known Belgian medieval town. It had the colors, the beautiful roofs, and the unique mood that you get while visiting cities like Bruges or French Gerberoy!
Begijnhoff is a term to describe a convent for members of the Beguine sisterhood. This particular Begijnhoff in Lier originated in the beginning of 13th century. Later in 1258, the sisterhood was allowed to have a pastor and a church built. Still, most of the houses only date back to the 17th and early 18th century. The same is said about the main building of the Begijnhoff – the Saint Margaret’s Church, which was built in the 18th century and has a baroque facade.
Since 1998, Begijnhoff of Lier is placed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Lier: the Most Underrated City in Belgium
We spent no more than 4-5 hours in this city, but it was more than enough to realize that this city is really amazing. The Zimmer Tower, the Begijnhoff, river Nette, the overall architecture – this city has everything tourists in Belgium could look for.
We still cannot understand why this city is not on every tourist’s radar. So, if you are anywhere around Lier – make sure you spend a day there!
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