Top 5 things to do in Lier (Flanders - Belgium)

This article first appeared on My Travelogue by Bhushavali

There were 2 main reasons why I wanted to visit Lier - for its unique clock and a kid-friendly farm. So I made a nice day trip to Lier from Brussels, out of it!

WHAT TO DO IN LIER, BELGIUM?
...wat te doen in lier, belgië...

Things to do in Lier with kids Ostrich Farm Struisvogelnest


Lier Places to visit Stadsmuseum City Museum

Lier Places to visit Stadsmuseum City Museum

Lier Places to visit Stadsmuseum City Museum

Lier Places to visit TownHall Belfry Vleeshall Carillon

LIER STADSMUSEUM - CITY MUSEUM OF LIER
My first stop as soon as I reached Lier was at the City Museum of Lier (Stadsmuseum), a museum dedicated to the history, geography, people, and culture of Lier. The first room was full of paintings and photos of the town from historic times to now. 
The next room is where Atyudarini got really excited. In fact, she had been excited about it since the day before, when I showed her photos of the museum - a Processional Giant! This room is all about the traditional entertainment & performing arts in Lier. There was also a Wooden Stilt Horse costume that we could try out (something similar to the one worn in Stilt Horse dances). Atyudarini wore it for one moment and then she didn't want to wear it and I couldn't even get a photo of her wearing it! It is even possible to go in & wear the huge Processional Giant woman, but now with the lockdown, it has been barred off! Here's also a spot to try your hand in Struifvogelspel, a traditional game where you try hitting the bullseye with a wooden ostrich! Atyudarini got really excited at the shadow puppetry area because you can actually make your own puppets here. Guess what? Since we didn't have much time to make our puppets there, we made our own shadow puppets with paper & skewers as well as the shadow puppet theatre out of a shoebox the next day at home!
Next is a touch-&-feel spot where you can handle different types of sheep wool, the worsted & combed wool as well as some woven & knitted wool fabrics. Why? Because sheep rearing is the important livelihood here in Lier, so much that the town's logo is sheep face! Sometimes they also organize a felted blanket making workshop for older kids!
The last room was the next point Atyudarini had been excited about since the previous day after seeing photos - a Mammoth skeleton. Of course, this section dives into the prehistoric past of Lier. There's a lot of things here for kids to play with - stencil drawing, jigsaw puzzles, toy figurines of prehistoric humans & animals, glove puppet of a mammoth, pull along toy mammoth and so much more! Should I actually mention, that this was the area we spent the most time at......
There's a room dedicated to the patron saint of Lier - St.Gummarus. There's also a section about the various trades of the city including lace-making - the local technique is by embroidering on a gauze cloth!

Where is Lier Stadsmuseum? (on Google Maps): Lier Stadsmuseum 
How to reach Lier Stadsmuseum10 mins walk (800m) from Lier / Lierre railway station
Lier Stadsmuseum Opening Hours: Tue to Sun 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Lier Stadsmuseum Tickets: €4 (incl. in museumPASSmusées)

LIER BELFRY - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN LIER, FLANDERS
Soon after the Lier Stadsmuseum, our next stop was the Grote Markt & Belfry. The Grote Markt (Grand Place) is a triangular-shaped one and has a fountain. When you're here don't miss the charming, wooden, direction signboard with vintage-styled houses & people. Also when you're here don't miss the circular stone on the ground, Heksensteen, which marks the place where the last 'witch' was burned. All over the world, many a time, women were named witches and were executed and Lier was no exception and today you can just witness the spot where that happened! Public executions were carried out at this very spot till late 19th C CE! 
During the first world war, most of the Lier town was destroyed, but somehow the Town Hall & Belfry were only mildly touched. The Town Hall was renovated in 1740 CE in a Brabant Rococo style by Jan Pieter van Bauerscheit the Younger. Today it houses the Tourism office of Lier and that office alone is accessible for the general public. I made sure to reach the Grote Markt when the clock struck an hour, in order to hear the Carillon on the Belfry. Lier Belfry is one of the 56 belfries all over Belgium & France listed together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike the Carillon in Mechelen's Rumbold Tower, here the carillon is automated. Watch the video to hear the music!
Just beside them, is the Cloth Makers' Hall (Vleeshuis) which was originally built in 1418 and used for various purposes over time. The current architecture belongs to 1920 and currently, it is used to host temporary exhibitions. 

Where is Lier Belfry & Town Hall? (on Google Maps): Visit Lier
How to reach Lier Belfry, TownHall & Grote Markt10 mins walk (800m) from Lier / Lierre railway station. 3 mins walk (250m) from Stadsmuseum Lier
Lier Belfry Opening Hours: It is inaccessible to public. Grote Markt is open 24x7 to hear the carillon music every hour 
Lier Tourism office (Lier Town Hall) Opening Hours: 9:00AM to 4:30PM (12:30PM to 1:00PM lunch break). Closed during winter weekends.
Lier Belfry & Town Hall Tickets: Free

Top places to visit in Lier Zimmertoren Jubilee Centenary Clock

Top places to visit in Lier Zimmertoren Jubilee Centenary Clock

Top places to visit in Lier Zimmertoren Jubilee Centenary Clock

Top places to visit in Lier Zimmermuseum Wonder Clock Best clock in the world

Top places to visit in Lier Zimmermuseum Wonder Clock Best clock in the world

ZIMMER TOWER (ZIMMERTOREN) & ZIMMERMUSEUM
After seeing the unique clocks like the Greenwich Atomic clock, Prague Astronomical Clock, and after I learnt that there's a unique clock to see here in Belgium, of course, I had to go visit it. In fact, there are 2 important & unique clocks here - Jubilee/Centenary clock on Zimmertoren and Wonder Clock on Zimmermuseum - both designed by Louis Zimmer, located next to each other. Seeing these clocks was one of the main reasons why I planned a day trip to Lier from Brussels. These are two of the most important clocks in the world and two of the top attractions of Lier. 
I made sure to reach here just on time to watch the clock at work at 12:00 Noon. At noon every day, the Jubilee clock puts up an incredible show! 
To begin with, the 4 painted figures depicting the 4 phases of life (child, youngster, adult, old man) on the side facade, ring the bell. This happens every 15 mins with each figure representing 15 mins. The old man rings the hourly bell. All 4, depict 4 popular fictional figures of the region. Watch the video below to see the clock in work.
Then at 12:00 noon only, the small red closet opens to display a carousel of 8 historically important people of Lier. The carousel takes quite a few moments to begin after the bells ring. So wait! There were 2 other groups standing with me when I went and one left, another was almost leaving and I had switched off my camera when finally the carousel finally began! So... Wait! 
The tower was originally called Cornelius Tower and dates back to 13th C CE, as a portion of the historic city walls of Lier. The Jubilee clock was installed in 1930 CE and the tower was renamed Zimmer Tower. Apart from the central dial that shows the right time, there are 12 small dials all around it that depict various things incl. date, month, day of the week, season, tides, phase of the moon, moon's orbit, solar orb etc. It is possible to climb up this tower and see the clock up close, from behind. The 2 floors of the Zimmer Tower is all about astronomy, stars, constellations and more. This was set up in 1932 by Louis Zimmer himself in order to teach the general public about how time works!
After seeing the clock's show and the Zimmer tower, I headed to the Beguinage and came back to the Zimmer Museum (I'll tell you why!) to see the other unique clock, another masterpiece of Louis Zimmer - Wonder Clock! This was built in 1935 CE and it won laurels around the world incl. appreciation from Albert Einstien. Yes, Wonder Clock at Lier is one of the most important clocks of the world. There are way too many things in this 3-panel clock. A the bottom are 3 sections with 9 ballerinas in 1, a man standing on a weighing machine in 1 and 4 people like the Zimmer Tower's bell ringers in the last (the old man alone rings the bell here)! Every hour, the 9 ballerinas standing on the 9 planets (pluto was one when the clock was built) start spinning. Depending on their weight on each planet, they raise to that height - very high in Mercury and very less in Jupiter! The man on the weighing machine literally has his weight checked on every planet. We went to the Beguinage and came back here to see this when the clock struck 1:00PM to see this show of the ballerinas & others! That's why!
There are 93 clocks on it totally depicting 93 different things! It includes the slowest moving mechanical clock which takes 25,800 years to complete one full rotation!!! 

Where is Zimmertoren & Zimmer Museum? (on Google Maps): Zimmermuseum
How to reach Zimmertoren Grote Markt13 mins walk (1.1km) from Lier / Lierre railway station. 4 mins walk (300m) from Grand Place
Zimmer Museum (incl. Zimmertoren) Opening Hours: Tue to Sun 10:00AM to 12:00Noon & 1:00PM to 5:00PM
Zimmer Museum (incl. climbing Zimmertoren) Tickets: €5
Zimmertoren Tickets: Free to see from outside 

Day trip to Lier Grand Place Grote Markt

Top places to visit in Lier Beguinage UNESCO World heritage site Flanders

Top places to visit in Lier Beguinage UNESCO World heritage site Flanders

Top places to visit in Lier Fortification Wall Gavenenpoort Prisoners Gate

Top places to visit in Lier River Nete

LIER BEGUINANGE - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN LIER, FLANDERS
As I mentioned just now, between Zimmer Tower and Zimmer Museum, we paid a quick visit to the Lier Beguinage, which is one of the 13 Flemish Beguinages listed together as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium.
The Lier Beguinage is a very small one when compared to the bigger ones I've seen in Diest, Ghent etc. But nevertheless, a charming one. Even before reaching the Lier Beguinage, on the way is the Gavegenenpoort. This literally means Prisoners' Gate. It is a small gate and is the only surviving part of the 14th C inner fortification wall. It is called Prisoners' because later on, it was used as a prison. Today it is a part of the Best Western Plus Zimmerhof hotel!!! Yes, truly one of the heritage hotels in Belgium.
The beguinage dates to 13th C and the church in it, Sint-Margaritakerk (St.Margaret's Church) was built in 17-18th C CE. Around when the church was built, the Pieta sculpture was also set up here. At the front gate is a terracotta sculpture of St.Begga. We entered through the front gate, walked around the beguinage a bit, exited through the back gate that opens up to the Nete river. It was a picturesque place and this is where we sat down on one of the benches overlooking the river to have our picnic lunch! Btw, when you're here you may want to buy a Liers Vlaaikes for dessert - a local product which is kind of a cross between a tart & flan, which also reminded me a bit of Queijada de Sintra of Portugal!

Where is Lier Beguinage? (on Google Maps): Beguinage
How to reach Lier Beguinage15 mins walk (1.2km) from Lier / Lierre railway station
Lier Beguinage Opening Hours & Tickets: 24x7; Free

Where is Sint-Margaritakerk: (on Google Maps): Sint-Margaritakerk 
How to reach Sint-MargaritakerkIt is located inside Lier Beguinage
Sint-Margaritakerk Opening Hours & Tickets: Accessible only by guided group tours organized through Lier Tourism office (located in Town Hall)

'T STRUISVOGELNEST
Being a toddler mom, one of the main reasons I headed to Lier was also to visit 't Struisvogelnest which literally means the Ostrich Nest. It is one awesome place to introduce various farm animals to your kids. Atyudarini got to see Ostrich for the first time in her life. Apart from Ostriches, there are also so many other farm animals & birds incl. cows, goats, alpacas, chickens, rabbits, donkeys, etc. This is undeniably one of the most popular things to do in Lier with kids. 

Where is 't StruisvogelnestHow to reach 't Struisvogelnest't Struisvogelnest Opening Hours & Tickets: Read all about it on my other post about the top 5 farms to visit from Brussels (coming up soon...)

VLOG FROM LIER, BELGIUM:

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN LIER & THINGS TO DO IN LIER, BELGIUM
Saint Gummarus Church (Sint-Gummaruskerk): Saint Gummarus is the patron saint of Lier and the humongous church here is dedicated to him.

Fort Lier: I was looking for a way to go from Lier to 't Struisvogelnest on Google Maps and on the way, I saw this star-shaped structure which was of course the Fort Lier. I was considering visiting here either while going or while returning from 't Struisvogelnest Ostrich farm. However, it is closed currently for the general public. It is possible to hike around this star-shaped moated fort. I skipped it though.

Spui: Spui is a historic lock-house on Nete river. This was built in 1508-16. It was then called the Groot Spui (Big lock) and there existed another one called Klein Spui (Small lock) which is now long gone. It served both the functions of being a fortification wall as well as a lock to control the water level on Nete river! Today it is not publicly accessible except when it hosts some exhibition. 

Abarth Works Museum: Abarth Works Museum is a car museum located on the outskirts of Leir to the north. This is a private museum owned by former rally driver Guy Moerenhout and features the works of the Italian racing car mechanic, Carlo Abarth on various cars. On my day trip to Lier, I had time to either go south to visit 't Struisvogelnest Ostrich Farm or go north to visit Abarth Works Museum, so I missed this!

Top things to do in Lier Flanders Belgium

Top things to do in Lier Flanders Belgium Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Gedurige Bijstand Chapel

Things to do in Lier with kids Ostrich Farm Struisvogelnest

Things to do in Lier with kids Ostrich Farm Struisvogelnest

Things to do in Lier with kids Ostrich Farm Struisvogelnest

LIER ITINERARIES
The Ultimate One day in Lier Itinerary: 
  • Begin the day with the clock striking at Lier Belfry (ideally 10:00AM)
  • Visit Stadsmuseum Lier
  • For the next hourly clock strike, reach Zimmer museum (ideally 11:00AM)
  • Visit Lier Beguinage and Saint Gummarus Church
  • For the 12:00 noon clock strike, reach Zimmertoren
  • Head to 't Struisvogelnest Ostrich Farm or Abarth Works Museum
  • Spend the evening walking along with Nete river and visit Spui

Two days in Lier Itinerary:
  • Day 1 - Same as above, but after Zimmertoren head directly to Abarth Works Museum
  • Day 2 - Hiking through Fort Lier and 't Struisvogelnest Ostrich Farm. If time permits relax and enjoy a picnic box at the Municipal Park (Stadspark) in the evening.

LIER HOTELS
There are a few hotels in Lier, Flanders incl. the Best Western Plus Zimmerhof hotel (4 stars), which is housed in a historic building that includes Gevagenenpoort, very close to the Beguinage & Zimmertoren. There are a few other hotels incl. Hotel Florent, Hof van Aragon, B-Inn etc. For a budget-friendly stay in Lier, the best option is the Bed Muzet hostel. Since I visited Lier on one of my day trips from Brussels, I cannot personally review any of these hostels & hotels in Lier, Belgium for you!

HOW TO REACH LIER
On Google Maps: Lier 
How to reach Lier from Brussels by car: 50km via Vilvoorde, Mechelen and N14
How to reach Lier from Brussels by train: There's a direct train from Brussels Nord/Central/Midi that runs once every hour and the journey time is about 45 mins. Here are some ways to get cheap Belgian Train tickets

Places to visit in Lier Attractions, Flanders, Belgium Pinterest One day in Lier, Flanders, Belgium Pinterest

Things to do in Lier with kids, Flanders, Belgium Pinterest Best things to do in Lier, Flanders, Belgium Pinterest


Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

10 comments:

  1. Before reading your blog posts I had no idea there was so much to see and do in Belgium. While we would not visit Lier for a kid-friendly farm, I can see other reasons for our visit. Lier looks like a great town for just wandering around. And we would definitely not miss the UNESCO Lier Belfry. I do love to look at beautiful clocks. I am glad they are no longer executing witches! Linda (LD Holland)

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  2. Lier looks a really charming cuty to visit in Belgium. To be honest, I have never heard of it but from the architecture I can tell its a place I am going to love exploring. Whenever I visit Belgium Bhushavali, I will come to your blog for all the posts and tips, you've explored the country so extensively and written so much about it!

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  3. Those clocks are stunning and definitely unique like you said. I did not know about Lier but it looks so pretty. Another place to add to my Belgium list, thanks to your posts that I get introduced to all these lovely places. Also, I would love to visit the City Museum of Lier as I usually visit museums when I go to new places and cities.

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  4. What a beautiful city! I would love to explore this charming city and check out the lovely clocks. I would not miss out on the Struisvogelnest Ostrich farm - something you rarely get to see. Love that image of the city with the arched bridges in front! :-)

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  5. Ha-ha -- the ostrich farm took me by surprise, but that would be fun to visit as well. Liers looks like a wonderful place to stroll -- so many beautiful buildings and history. The views along the water are spectacular, especially the bridge and buidings reflected in the river!

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  6. I haven't heard about Lier. It does look like a family-friendly place that's a good source of knowledge, history, and culture. I'd definitely try the wool fabric testing and maybe join the blanket and lace making workshop.

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  7. Lier looks like a beautiful city with quite a few things to do. The City Museum is probably the place to begin if you want to find out more about the history of Lier. Abarth Works Museum sounds very interesting also. I'd love to visit Belgium someday.

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  8. Looks like I need to go back to Belgium sometime again as I keep learning more about the country. Abarth Works Museum, hiking through Fort Lier and 't Struisvogelnest Ostrich Farm all look great activities to enjoy. Lier certainly looks a nice place to be in for two days.

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  9. I read it as Liar at first haha. Lier seems like a nice city to explore. The farm indeed seems like a cool place for kids to hangout. Beautifully captured pictures!

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  10. I read it as Liar at first haha. Lier seems like a nice city to explore. The farm indeed seems like a cool place for kids to hangout. Beautifully captured pictures!

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