Skip to main content

Because once an air balloon landed there

There is a district with the name "Luchtbal", that's Flemisch for "Air Balloon" in the north of Antwerp. How is it possible that a whole area is called after an air balloon? It's a simple story and it all started with a balloon landing and of course the talk about it at a local café.

A similar picture of an air balloon landing

At the end of the 19th century, a military air balloon landed on a field in the north of Antwerp. The fields were mostly agricultural lands with only a few houses and a café. At that time the area was called "Vossenschijn" after a small river passing through the lands.

When the air balloon landed it was the talk of the local cafe, nobody had ever seen a thing like that. After a while, the people started talking about going to the place where the air balloon landed when they wanted to go to the café after a hard day's work. So the owner of the cafe decided to changed the name of his established into "De Luchtbal" Flemish for "The Air Balloon".

Later, when the first bus stop came to the aria,  the stop was also called "De Luchtbal" after the café and not after the balloon landing. And this is how the district got its name. After the first World War, the district got an enormous building boost and was divided into two big areas. The low part and the high part.

The low part of "De Luchtbal"

In the low area, most of the houses are cottage-like with a small garden, in the high area the first apartment buildings were built. The original café was demolished and later a new café was built a few hundred meters further under one of the apartment blocks. Today that café is still there.

The high part of "De Luchtbal"

Popular posts from this blog

Belgian kids got to drink beer during their school lunch

There are almost 800 different kinds of beer in Belgium. One kind was very popular till the70's, it was even given to kids at school during their lunch break. Beer to kids? You must be kidding! Well, let's go a bit further into this. The beers we are talking about were so-called table beers, a kind of beer that was specially made for people who can't drink alcohol. So it's was a kind of alcohol-free beer, a kind, because there was some alcohol in it. between 1 and 4 percent alcohol. The most popular table beer was Piedboeuf, it had 1.1 percent alcohol in it and there was a lot of sugar added to make it as sweet as Coca-Cola. A good marketing strategy made that it was well distributed in almost all schools in Belgium. The reason was that it would be very healthy for them, because of the natural ingredients and of course the sugar. It would make them grow fast and strong. It would even be good for pregnant women and for women that were breastfeeding their baby'

How the Belgians founded New York

In order to avoid any confusion in this story, it is important to know that in the sixteenth century, the Netherlands covered a part of northern France and Lorraine, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the present Netherlands. Its inhabitants were called the Belgians, and the maps represented the country in the shape of a lion: the "Leo Belgicus". Besides, numerous maps from the sixteenth century showed this territory under the name of Belgium. The latter failed into disuse for the benefit of the Netherlands and only reappeared in 1789 on the occasion of the first Belgian revolution. In 1831 Belgium became an independent country. Today Belgium is a lot smaller and is divided into two big regions mostly based on the language they speak in that particular region. In the north, there is Flanders where they speak Flemish (Dutch) and in the south, there is the Walloon part where they speak French. Almost in the center and between the two parts is the region of the capital Brussels.

A secret medieval street in Antwerp

The Vlaeykensgang is a unique small street in the center of Antwerp. Hidden between two busy Antwerp streets and close to the Cathedral. This medieval times street can easily be walked past unnoticed. Behind its meter-wide entrance, there is an oasis. A step into the passage with its quiet courtyards transports visitors back in time, back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Picture by Harry Fabel Previously, the street was the domain of shoemakers, who had to sound the alarm bell of the Cathedral, also some of the poorest people of the city lived in that very small street. Now you will find antique shops, art galleries, and an exclusive restaurant, Sir Anthony Van Dyck. There is a subdued atmosphere and the street is a popular place to listen to the cathedral's summer carillon concerts. At its heart, you find the Axel Vervoordt Gallery. Picture by Harry Fabel The "Vlaeykensgang" exists as a key piece of Antwerp’s architectural and sociological history, offering a rar