On our three days in Warsaw, we visited the Museum of Warsaw and the Heritage Interpretation Centre. We learned that the city of Warsaw was destroyed in 1944, 85% of the city was bombed by the Germans in retaliation of the 1944 Warsaw uprising.
Efforts from several architects and the state after the war created a plan of reconstruction. From 1945-51 the old town place was reconstructed, however not exactly as it was before, creating a more spacious city centre. Our lovely guide Marta took us around and showed us the history of the reconstruction and the UNESCO recognition.
Later we went to the Warsaw Museum at the old town place where we learned more about Warsaw’s history and population. We walked around through the old town and enjoyed the nice weather.
The next day we went to see the National Museum of Warsaw were our lovely guide Mr. Glowacki, who works at the curatorial department told us about the history of the museum at the time of the war. We found that the museum was almost completely looted by the Nazis, with paintings such as a Young Man by Rafael never returning. We also saw efforts from the Ministry of Culture of Poland to track paintings lost during that time which we were able to see at the museum.
Lastly, a nice story about a important symbolic painting for the Polish people. A massive war painting by recognised artist Jan Matejko. The great scale art work was dismounted by the staff and hidden, first in Warsaw and later buried in Lublin. The staff wanted to avoid the Nazis burning the painting as the topic of the work was the defeat of the German army to the Polish army in the 1500.
We found Warsaw lovely, filled with life and great food! We will be back once more! This is the end of our journey so thank you readers and to the next adventure!
Vienna is full of surprises! On our short visit we had the opportunity to visit Belvedere Museum. Here was the home of the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The Bloch-Bauer family were victims during WWII as they were Jewish. Their art was stolen including this painting.
However, the remaining family of Adele tried to get the painting back which would end up in the collections of this museum after the war. In 2006 after several legal battles, the portrait and another 4 Klimt paintings were repatriated to their owners or their families. Now the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer rests in a gallery in New York. We had the chance to se the collection and other Klimt master pieces such as The Kiss.
On our second day we went to the Welt Museum or Museum of the World, our main interest was the Penacho de Moctezuma, also brought to Austria by explorers. The exhibition also included a passage to the Pacific with Maori Taonga. Overall the exhibition of object from around the world felt quite heavy and difficult to appreciate as the whole approach was of a colonial look. Nonetheless, there was a room explaining the role of the museum and its colonial collections which was a step forward. In this room there are thoughtful questions and exploration of the role of the museum in the future, we hope to see more like this . Contemporary exhibitions at the museum of Nepalese art and syncretism were superb and we highly recommend it.
Vienna is a gem and a must in world heritage cities!
Arriving to Bruges, we decided to go head on to our most interest spot. The church of Our Lady of Bruges which holds a beautiful Michelangelo sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
The virgin is a symbol of the city and its people. During WWII it was stolen by Nazi solders and smuggled out of Belgium in a Red Cross truck. The sculpture illuminates and stands today at her home because of a group of heritage and art historian professionals which located most of the stolen art by the Nazis. The famous movie the monuments men was based on this story and the inspiration for our entire trip.
The lady of Bruges was returned home after being discover in a Salt mine in Germany with many other works of art. At the moment the altar where the virgin sits is being restored to honour and maintain the virgin’s home.
We also had the opportunity to visit the newly finished Bruges museum, the Flemish masters museum, Belfry world heritage site and the whole town. Bruges is a charming medieval city which had a group of powerful people interested in the revival of the medieval charm in the city. The Violet le Duc XIX century inspired restoration returned the medieval charm which is now a world heritage city.
Our last day was full of adventure. Early in the morning we went for coffee at the Old English Building or Museum of Musical Instruments which has a restaurant on top and you can access that for free. The architecture and view was breathtaking.
After coffee we went to the BOZAR or PSK, with our research at hand we accessed the building to see a Brancusi exhibition. According to an article by cultural journalist Geert Sels, the BOZAR was used as an action house during the war. This became a common practice during the Nazi occupation because business was slow for the BOZAR.
During 1940, it was the first time in the PSK history that a financial year was closed with a loss. According to rough estimates by Kim Oosterlinck’s ULB team, in 1942 the auction house brought the BOZAR a revenue of 2 million francs. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet anyone at theBOZAR to corroborate this information.
Needless to say, during this time the common practice was art theft to Jewish people, as well as prime customers being the German occupiers.
This exciting history combines with the beauty of the Victor Horta’s building. We loved the exhibition and the space. We highly recommend it.
Later that day we went to a lovely sea food restaurant and we ended our adventure with a personal visit to the school where Mafe’s grandmother went during the WWII.
We made it to Brussels! After a fun afternoon yesterday, we saw the Museum of Fine Arts with an excellent exhibition of Bruegel, including an immersive experience to his paintings. Later that night we went to the famous Delirium bar where we had typical Belgian Beer.
Today we met with Ms. Paula Cordeiro, who works at the heritage office in Brussels. We where guided through the Grand Place, a museum and the town hall tower by her. She told us the history of Brussels and the processes of restoration done to the place from 2004 until 2016. Later we had lunch at the iconic Aux Armes de Bruxelles where we had the Waterzooi dish, traditional in Brussels.
Finally we went to the cathedral of the city where we admired more art works and decorations.
Stay tune for our last day as we will visit the Bozar and explore the history of this venue which our research found it was an auction house of stolen art during the 30s and 40s.
On our last day we went to the National Museum of History and Art, we went through the Palaeolithic to the 100 anniversary of the Suffrage in Luxembourg.
Museums in this city have incredible architecture, adapting old fortresses walls to their structure and incredible exhibitions.
Later we went to the famous Chocolate Store across from the Chambre des Deputes, and discovered why it is so famous. Our choices were two hot chocolates (lavender and salty caramel) and a piece of tiramisu cake. We enjoyed our last views of the city and ended our day at a local bar called Vis à Vis. Au revoir to Luxembourg!
We found ourselves looking out to the city view and reading about the World Heritage Site commemoration. The fortifications of Luxembourg are regarded as one is the most impressive in Europe. They became a World Heritage Site in 1994.
In the city museum, we had the opportunity to understand the evolution of the fortifications and development in the city. Luxembourg with its topography was destined to be one of the greatest walled cities in Europe. Popular among tourist, the beautiful views will take your breath away.
Later in the day we visited the Notre-Dame cathedral where the royal crypt hidden underneath the church, flanked by two lions in bronze with the Luxembourg coat of arms. In there, it rests the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg as well as other members of the Ducal family.
Tomorrow we will go to the national museum of history and art of Luxembourg and we will say goodbye to our stay here.
On our first day in the beautiful old town of Luxembourg, we met Claudine from the Cultural Office of the city. She gave us a lovely tour of some parts of the town and the National Museum. On the way we saw this gorgeous statue of the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. She ruled Luxembourg from 1919 till 1964. Together with her husband Prince Felix Bourbon-Parma lived the Nazi occupation. They were both victims art theft.
The statue is located on Place de Clairfontaine and is one of the most famous statues in the city. It was designed by the French sculptor Jean Cardot.
In 2016 three paintings which belonged to the royal couple where found in two private homes in Milan, Italy. An article on the Luxembourg Times reports that most of the stolen pieces were found and returned to Luxembourg after WWII. These three works will not be returned, the police states that the royal family has already been compensated for their losses.
Tomorrow we will visit Notre-Dame cathedral where she is buried.