In Flanders’ oldest city, shop for trinkets at the 300 stalls of its huge antiques market.
Tongeren is Flanders’ oldest city. It was home to the Eburones, a Gallic tribe who protested furiously when the Romans arrived and tried to take over. One of their princes, Ambiorix, rose to fame for his bravery on the battlefield. He even impressed Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who described him in his memoirs as the ‘bravest of all Gauls’. Of course, this didn’t stop Caesar crushing the tribe and forcing them into slavery. Ambiorix managed to escape and, consequently, is embraced as a Flemish hero. The Romans named the town Aduatica Tungrorum and when Brussels was still no more than a few dirt lanes, Tongeren was a bustling Roman outpost connected to the imperial highway. It was also one of the first towns in the Low Countries to adopt Christianity after the appointment of Bishop St Servatius in 342AD. Under the protectorship of Liège, the city continued to do well, allowing for the construction of the medieval city walls. However, the town fell off the map when Louis XIV’s army razed large sections of the city and didn’t enjoy revival until Belgian independence in 1830.
Tongeren is an instantly likeable town, which has embraced its Roman history with gusto. It now boasts one of Europe’s best museums and one of its largest antiques markets with more than 300 stalls covering Leopoldwaal, Veemarkt and Maastrichterstraat on Sunday mornings.