Relive the spirit of the Renaissance during Brussels’ Carolus V Festival

From May to September, the Carolus V Festival is an opportunity for Brussels to relive the spirit of the Renaissance. Among the countless activities offered, the talks and guided walks through the capital of Europe let visitors explore the time of Charles V, the most powerful emperor of the 16th century. This year, to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the death of the great Flemish master Bruegel, several new activities have recently been added to the festival’s extensive programme.

The Carolus V Festival programme is part of the cultural network ‘European routes of Emperor Charles V’. This tourist and historical route is recognised by the European Council’s European Institute of Cultural Routes. It reunites the places that marked the reign of Charles V and the cities he passed through.

The heritage and history of Europe in the 16th century are thus highlighted thanks to a series of festive, cultural and family-oriented activities organised in several spaces throughout the Brussels Capital Region. Through tours and outings, visitors relive various aspects of life under the reign of Charles V.

This year, to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the death of the great Flemish master Bruegel, the festival will offer visitors a variety of original exhibitions and activities. This is the perfect occasion to (re)discover the monumental work of the greatest Flemish painter of the 16th century.

Here is a quick snippet of the guided tours and talks from this special year:


Brussels in the time of Erasmus – FR

From the Petit Sablon square to the Erasmus House garden, this tour allows you to follow in the footsteps of Erasmus and the century in which he lived.
Dates: 22/06 & 21/09 at 2 pm

Bruegel the Elder and the secret of the two keys

Let’s stroll through Brussels where, beginning in 1562, Bruegel lived and created his most beautiful paintings. A true alchemist, did he know the secret of the two keys?
Dates: 14/07 & 08/09 at 2.30 pm

Bruegel and his Marollen – FR

Come on this walking journey and discover the Marollen of the 16th century… and more specifically the protagonist of our artistic culture: Pieter Bruegel.
Date: 02/06 at 2 pm

Charles V and Brussels Golden Age in the Renaissance – FR – EN

Starting at the Place Royal in the Sablon neighbourhood, then moving toward the Grand Place, you can admire parks and churches, palaces or plain facades and the statues and fountains that bring back memories of Charles V.
FR: 06/06 at 11 am
EN: 21/06 at 11 am

Behind the scenes at the Ommegang, part 1 – FR

Dive into 1549 with a guide in period costume and find out how the show is put together. We invite you behind the scenes of the Ommegang to witness its frantic preparations.
Date: 09/06 at 2 pm

Habits and customs of the Renaissance: Brussels, a walled city – FR This ‘route’ will lead you from a seigneurial area to a bourgeois area.

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Date: 23/06 at 2 pm

Behind the scenes of the Ommegang, part 2 – FR

Two hours before the Ommegang, you can wonder at and experience the last preparations of this commemorative show.
Date: 28/06 at 7 pm

Guided tours. Brussels in the time of Erasmus – EN

From the Petit Sablon square to the Erasmus House garden, this tour allows you to follow in the footsteps of Erasmus and the century in which he lived.
Date: 22/06 at 2 pm

Guided tours of the Erasmus House – FR – NL

As part of the Heritage Days, discover the Erasmus House with our seasoned guides!
Dates: 14 & 15/09, 10 am – 6 pm

For several of these visits, group visits are also available on demand for the duration of the festival (according to availability of guides) in multiple languages (FR, NL, EN, DE, ES), and certain visits in French are adapted for those with vision impairments.

Talks that history enthusiasts will love

During May and June, history buffs can attend talks to better understand the realities of the period and to learn more about Brussels in the time of Bruegel.

Bruegel, a Brussels painter? – FR

It was during the 1560s and in Brussels that Bruegel created the majority of the paintings that we attribute to him today. The awareness of the ties between the artist and the city provide quite a different story about who he was or what the city where he lived and worked was like. It’s shocking how much recent research is providing us with new information on the Brussels of this master. If he did not in fact live where we always suspected he had, it can’t be far off. It is likely that Dull Gret, his most important work preserved in Antwerp, was not made in Antwerp but in Brussels.

Useful information:
Date: 23/05
Time: 6.30 pm
Speaker: Roel Jacobs
Location: Bibliothèque des Riches-Claires – 1000 Bru
Price: Free

Brussels in the time of Bruegel – FR-NL

The 1560s are one of the most important decades in Brussels’ history, and it is also the period in which Pieter Bruegel lived in the city. You will understand how important the city was in Bruegel’s life just by learning about the history of the city during that period.

Useful information: Dates: 20/06 NL
27/06 FR
Speaker: Roel Jacobs Time: 6 pm
Length: 1.5 hours
Price: Free
Location: Maison du Roi – Grand – Place 1000 Bru Info &

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