A day in Lommel
When you think of deserts, images from Disney's Aladdin come to mind: lonely palm trees, flying carpets and of course stretches of sand. A quintessentially tropical landscape. But did you know Belgium has its own desert scenery? Located in Limburg, Lommel is home to the Sahara, a unique nature reserve that's all about the raw material used to produce glass. Going into the city, you'll discover the extent to which glass can be used, from architecture to works of art. Welcome to the land of sand and glass!
Visit of the GlazenHuis | Dorp 14B, 3920 Lommel
Glass is obtained by melting sand at more than 1,500°C. The melted texture is then blown or put into a mold, before being cooled down to maintain its new form. At the Flemish Center for Contemporary Glass Art, a unique venue in Belgium, you can discover glass in all its forms! To awaken the visitors' interest in this material, the museum organizes three exhibitions a year, each time with a different theme, highlighting contemporary glass art from national and international artists. For example, the exhibition 'Tactile' (28/06/18 - 04/11/18) brings together works of art that tickle our desire to touch, from deep-sea coral-like glass sculptures to a life-size glass dress. Of course visitors are not allowed to touch the art displayed, creating a tension that's wonderfully enticing.
The architecture of the museum itself is a glass prowess. A translucent box through which a glass cone pierced its way, high into the sky. The cone proudly overlooks the rest of the town and visitors can experience the views up there by taking the intriguing, intertwined staircase. Before leaving, make sure to stop at the Glass Shop which holds many beautiful, little objects produced locally. Further exploring Lommel, you could have a look the House of the Town, another modern architecture building of which the prime material is reminiscent of the nature reserve that lies a few kilometers from the center.
Looking for a place to lunch? Don't expect anything hip in Lommel, but you can choose between 't Onderwerp for no frills lunch options such as salads and sandwiches, Diana if you'd like to discover a local favorite and Den Bonten Oss for a grill house that offers more of an experience. These three addresses are just a few steps away from the GlazenHuis.
Visit of the Sahara
Stepping into the Sahara, you instantly forget you're in Belgium. Kilometers of sand surrounded by a fragrant pine forest transport you to another place. This nature reserve is one of a kind and beautiful in its own right, although the story behind isn't quite as cute. Decades ago, the pollution caused by a nearby zinc factory caused the extinction of all the vegetation, creating this arid landscape. By planting a new forest around it, the region was revived and turned into a secret oasis.
The Saraha is still relatively unknown and is therefore the perfect getaway for an afternoon of chilling, whether lying on the banks of the majestic lake with clear blue water, or wandering the paths through the domain. One of the highlights to look out for is the Panoramic Tower, a 30 meters high structure that grants amazing views over the surrounding. Also here you get to enjoy an interesting piece of architecture since, through the use of cords, the design of the tower recalls the ripply lines of sand dunes.
This travel guide is suitable for both Saturdays and Sundays. It is best to go to Lommel by car and the journey from Brussels will take you approximately 1h30. To get to the Sahara, look for the address 'De Soeverein, Sportveldenstraat 10, 3920 Lommel'. Park your car and continue by foot until you reach the first stretches of sand.