Hasselt is a small Hanseatic town with a grand history and beautiful centre, situated on the banks of Het Zwarte Water (the Black Water) into which the river Vechte discharges.
- Marvel at the historic buildings such as St Stephen’s Church, the old town hall and lime kilns.
- Hasselt has over 70 national monuments.
- Find out why Hasselt is also known as Little Amsterdam.
What to do in Hasselt
Hasselt is home to over 70 national monuments, many of them beautifully restored buildings. The most important of these buildings is probably St Stephen’s Church, which was completed in 1497 and is famous for its famous organ (built by Rudolph Knol) and its mural depicting St Cristopher. Other sights worth seeing include the old town hall and the lime kilns.
What makes Hasselt unique is that it is, in essence, a miniature version of Amsterdam. In its old centre, you will find a very similar arrangement of canals, bridges, quays and sluices. So take a pleasant walk along Heerengracht, Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht, or explore Hasselt along its waterways on a boat round-trip.
Hasselt as a place of pilgrimage
In the late Middle Ages, Hasselt was an important religious center. The pilgrims’ chapel De Heilige Stede represented the highlight of many a medieval pilgrimage. Even today, on the second Sunday after Pentecost, many people go on a pilgrimage to this special chapel for the Hasselter Aflaat or ‘Hasselt Indulgence’. Hasselt is located on a junction of pilgrims’ routes. The Habikspad from Friesland and Jacobspad from Groningen join up here and connect to the international pilgrim’s road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Where to eat in Hasselt
Hasselt boasts a number of great restaurants and cafes. For lunch, visit De Herderin (Hoogstraat 1), a brasserie serving tasty, seasonal dishes. Another great venue is cafe-restaurant De Compagnie (Prinsengracht 29), Hasselt’s oldest cafe, dating back to 1700. Café De Zon (Markt 3), located in a monumental building on Markt square, is a great choice for both lunch and dinner.
Editors’ tip: Take a walk along the atmospheric canals and through the tight alleys with an experienced guide to hear some of the myriad stories from Hasselt’s distant and not-so-distant past. This walking tour takes about an hour and a half. For more information, consult the local tourist office.
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