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Visiting Anderlecht, Belgium: historical gem in bustling Brussels

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The Erasmus House, Anderlecht

The Erasmus House, Anderlecht

Church of Sts. Peter and Guidon, Anderlecht

Church of Sts. Peter and Guidon, Anderlecht

Map location of Anderlecht within Brussels Capital Region

Map location of Anderlecht within Brussels Capital Region

Peace at the centre — the Erasmus House

Anderlecht is a bilingual municipality in the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium. Among Brussels's many historical and cultural treasures, the Erasmus House in Anderlecht is certainly very significant.

I don't use the word 'thrilled' to describe places which I might find generally interesting, but the Erasmus House would certainly score very deservedly by the use of such a term in describing my thoughts as I visited this centuries' old building. It houses a museum about the life and work of the great Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466/7-1536). The displays of his correspondence with leading figures of his day, including Luther; the well preserved furniture; the interpretative commentaries; the garden; and the gift store memorabilia; all combined in my view to make extremely well spent visiting time. As the early printing industry emerged in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Erasmus used his profound knowledge of Greek and Latin to prepare editions of manuscripts and texts for posterity. Building on the methodology of Laurentius Valla, Erasmus produced — among others — editions of his Novum instrumentum , first printed in 1516, containing the Greek text of the New Testament, the purpose of which was to justify his emendations to his edition of Jerome's Latin Vulgate. Indeed, from his prolific pen flowed book editions, letters, satire and commentaries.

Indeed, there is a sense in which historical-grammatical notions of hermeneutics — interpreting what words mean in their context — owe much to the labours and standards set by this great Renaissance scholar.

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While you are visiting Erasmus House in Anderlecht, the Church of St Peter and St Guidon, in Vaillance Square, is also worth viewing. Some of the church dates from the 10th century and Jean van Ruysbroeck, architect of the tower of Brussels City Hall in the Grand' Place, was responsible for some of the work done in the 15th century.

The other outstanding historical and cultural sites worth visiting in Brussels are too many to mention here, but while in Brussels be sure to visit the Grand' Place. The Royal Palace (French: Palais royal; Dutch: Koninklijke Paleis) has an impressive façade,  which, seen from the Park of Brussels (French: Parc de Bruxelles; Dutch: Park van Brussel) is impressive; in a wing of the Palace, the Hôtel Bellevue, there is a superb museum of Belgium's ruling royal dynasty.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National), from where car rental is available. For access by Metro to the Erasmus House from Brussels city centre, take line 5 in the Erasme/Erasmus direction and travel to St.Guidon/St.Guido stop. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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