Belgium: Tienen

Come on, own up. If you’re on your way to the sugar capital of Belgium, you lucky so-and-so’s, don’t keep it to yourself. The chocolate! The beer! Oh yeah, and the music. That should be good, too.

There are just two more concerts, this time in Tienen’s historic market square, then the band take a well-deserved break before another run at London’s Royal Albert Hall in September.

Tienen, in the province of Flemish Brabant, is perhaps best-known for its sugar refinery, founded in 1836. The annual three-day Suikerrock festival, which starts on Friday and celebrates its 30th anniversary, its main stage also located in the market square, takes its name from Tienen’s long association with sugar.

The Grote Markt, or large market square, one of the largest in Belgium, is surrounded by history and character: traditional shops, restaurants, cafés, two magnificent Gothic churches and, naturally (well, you’d be disappointed if there wasn’t one): a sugar museum.

Behind the Suikermuseum, in what was once the town’s jail, is a smaller museum called Het Toreke, displaying ancient relics unearthed during archaeological digs that show that Tienen was once a Roman settlement. (I mention it just in case anyone needs a Roman fix and is starting to experience withdrawal symptoms.)

If you pass through Tienen’s train station, which is within walking distance of the Grote Markt, you might care to know that it is the oldest station still in use in Belgium and dates from 1841.

Have a great night or two in Tienen, everybody. We really do want to hear all about it (and not just the chocolate and beer, although some of us want to hear about these, too).

One final thing: be sure to take a coat tonight because it looks like it might rain. I’m sure a little drizzle won’t dampen anyone’s spirits, though.