Aarschot Tourist Attractions
The small Hageland town of Aarschot is situated on the river Demer on the border with Kempenland. It is the center of an asparagus-growing area but also has some industry (batteries, textiles).First mentioned in 825 Aarschot became part of Brabant in 1172. In 1212 it joined the Hanseatic League, quickly developing into the principal center of the Flanders cloth industry. Its heyday period ended with Maximilian I's siege and sacking of the town in 1489, a fate it was to suffer again at the hands of the Spaniards in the 16th C. In 1782 Aarschot was captured by the Austrians and in the First World War it was the scene of a bloody Belgian rearguard action against the Germans. Between 1940 and 1944 the town was several times subject to heavy bombardment.Aarschot was the birthplace of the artist Pieter Joseph Verhaghen (1728-1811) whose work - contrary to prevailing fashion - was greatly influenced by Rubens. He achieved success as a court painter in Vienna.
Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk
Begun in 1337 with construction of the choir by the French masterbuilder Jacques Piccart, the Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk was completed in 1400 when the 85m/279ft high tower was finished. The sandstone church is an outstanding example of Demer Gothic, a regional variation of Brabant High Gothic.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk Interior
The interior furnishings of the church include a number of items of interest, chief among them is the 16th C. Flamboyant choir-screen surmounted by a Late Gothic crucifix. The choir stalls (also 16th C.) are decorated with satirical carvings, e.g. of "The Wolf and the Stork", attributed to Jan Borchman of Eindhoven. A painting "The Disciples of Emmaus" by Verhaghen (1788) hangs in a chapel to the right of the choir.
Adjacent to the church stands the former béguinage, originally founded in 1251 but rebuilt in 1635. Nos. 15-19 are the only houses surviving from those early days however.
Typical Visit: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sint-Pieters-Rhode - Kasteel van Horst
An outing to the Kasteel van Horst at Sint-Pieters-Rhode, 13km/8mi south of Aarschot, is deservedly popular among local people. Set in delightful parkland, the moated château began life as a medieval castle of which only the magnificent tower escaped destruction at the hands of Maximilian I's troops. The existing brick building, polygonal in shape and with sandstone ornamentation, is largely the product of 16th and 17th C. rebuilding and conversion.