Van Eyck to Van Gogh: Artistic Highlights of the Low Countries
Designed as a pre-tour to Rhine Art and Music Cruise. **This tour can be booked on it’s own**
Encounter the rich art historical tradition of the Low Countries on this tour of the galleries and museums of Belgium and The Netherlands. Experience everything from the sublime to the surreal at Belgium’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, before journeying through the countryside to Ghent to witness a spectacular exhibition on the revolutionary genius of Jan Van Eyck. Learn about the rise, fall and resurrection of Bruges before continuing to Antwerp, home of the legendary Flemish Baroque artist Peter Paul Ruben.
Finally, explore Amsterdam and wonder at the treasures of the Van Gogh Museum, before uncovering the history of Dutch art from the Middle Ages to the modern day at the magnificent Rijksmuseum. Along the way, marvel at the exquisite architecture of the region and behold the natural beauties of the Low Countries as Spring breathes into full bloom.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Qatar Airways flights to Brussels via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Brussels in the mid-afternoon and make your way to the hotel.
At 18:00, join Kate and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing, followed by a special welcome dinner.
Following a morning talk by Kate, enjoy a walking tour of the historic centre of Brussels and discover the Grand Place, the historic central square of Brussels surrounded by opulent Baroque and Gothic guild houses.
After lunch, visit Belgium’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts, which trace the history of the visual arts – painting, sculpture and drawing – from the 15th to the 21st centuries. Continue to the Magritte Museum, housed in the five-level neo-classical Hotel Altenloh, dedicated to the world of the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte.
Enjoy a talk by Kate and then depart Brussels to the Floralia Flower Show at the Castle of Groot Bijgaarden. Visit the magnificent spring flower exhibition which takes place every year in the park and the greenhouses of the castle, and admire over 500 varieties of spring flowers, including 400 varieties of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils.
Continue to the city of Ghent and see the 13th- to 15th-century Church of St Nicholas, one of the most beautiful examples of the Scheldt Gothic style – an impressive mixture of Romanesque and Flemish styles. Visit the Cathedral of St Bavo, where you will find the famous altarpiece The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, painted in 1432 by Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck.
Then, enjoy a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts and explore its special exhibition dedicated to Jan Van Eyck. This unique and exceptional exhibition will present the restored outer wings of ‘The Ghent Altarpiece’ and explain how Van Eyck’s painting technique changed Western painting.
Today, enjoy a day trip to the city of Bruges. Thanks to its port, this splendid medieval city was at one time a major commercial city. During a morning walking and canal tour of the historic centre, learn about the rise, fall and resurrection of Bruges, a city that glittered in Northern Europe with as much power and panache as Venice once did in the Mediterranean.
Visit the Groeninge Museum, offering a varied overview of the history of Belgian art. Admire its impressive collection of works by Van Eyck and masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and post-war modern art.
After lunch, visit the Hans Memling Museum, housed in the large complex of the medieval St. John’s hospital, and admire works by Flemish artist Hans Memling including his renowned wooden ‘Shrine of St Ursula’. Then, return to Ghent in the late afternoon.
This morning, depart Ghent to Antwerp. Located on the banks of the River Scheldt and once Europe’s largest port, Antwerp is renowned as being the diamond capital of the world.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city with a visit to the towering Cathedral of Our Lady, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the largest church in the Benelux, sheltering four magnificent Rubens altarpieces.
Following a morning talk by Kate, visit the Rubens House, which not only houses some of the painter’s greatest works but also gives an insight into the lifestyle of high-class society in the 17th century.
After lunch, visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, displaying a world-class art collection of Flemish primitives and expressionists, including major works by Rubens and Henri De Braekeleer (visit to be confirmed).
This morning, travel from Antwerp to Amsterdam.
Enjoy an afternoon visit to the Van Gogh Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries. The museum houses more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters, including some masterpieces such as Van Gogh’s self-portraits, Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters and The Bedroom.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
Enjoy a morning walking tour of Amsterdam and admire the traditional 17th century merchants’ houses and numerous bridges, and observe the daily life of houseboats along the canals.
Continue with a visit to the world-renowned Rijksmuseum, which offers an excellent overview of Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages onwards, and of major aspects of European and Asian art.
The afternoon is at leisure to continue your exploration of Amsterdam at your own pace.
This morning, visit the Stedelijk Museum, the largest Dutch museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design dating from 1870 to the present.
Then, transfer to the MS Amadeus Silver III, where tour arrangements begin for the Rhine Art and Music Cruise tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
06 February 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Belgium and the Netherlands.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Kate Kangaslahti
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and waiting staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Brussels – Brussels Marriott Grand Place****
Ghent – NH Ghent Belfort****
Antwerp – Radisson Blu Astrid****
Amsterdam – NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky*****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.