The bench of the carillon player


Kadetjesplein, in front of ‘Het Salon van de Smaak’ and the Tourist Office, Maastrichterstraat 59, Hasselt (Belgium) – (Free)

The Place

Even the locals hardly know this marvellous small square. You can reach it through a small passage right across the wonderful restaurant ‘Het Salon van de Smaak’ and the Tourist Office. At noon students and strollers eat their sandwiches on the benches. There are several original pieces of art. Two benches were offered by the city authorities to well-known citizens: writer Jos Ghijsen and the player of the carillon René Vanstreels (1925-2010). Try some different perspectives from different benches. The square will surprise you. From one side you see the low buildings of the historical city. From another side it looks like a magical garden (a horse on the roof!) or an open air museum.

The Tip

This is the ideal spot to listen to the carillon of the cathedral. Take a seat on the bench of the carillon player. He composed the melody of ‘The Singing Tower’ for the instrument. The carillon is a typical instrument of Flanders and The Netherlands. You will hardly find it elsewhere. Hasselt donated a carillon to its sister city Itami in Japan. In return the city received a complete Japanese garden. The carillon gives a voice to the bronze metal. Bronze is a happiness metal. Crucifixes, medals and carriers of happiness are made of this material. A carillon has a history dating from the 16th century and has at least 23 bronze bells. The carillon you hear in Hasselt dates from 1752 and has 49 bells. René Vanstreels is one of the best-known players of the carillon. He made it his life project. What is the project of your life? Now you are sitting on his bench, reflect on what music and harmony mean for you. Enjoy it.

Pillars of happiness

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In the passage to restaurant ‘t Kookpunt you pass by a challenging, modern piece of art ‘Blinded by Lights’. It’s made by the Limburg artist and designer Michaël Verheyden (‘Understated Chic’). Nobody pays attention to it, because it looks like an empty publicity board. But it tells us a nice story about identity. Stand right in front of it. The hard light will attract you and even blind you. Gradually the light becomes a mirror. Now you can see yourself. What do you like about yourself? What are you proud of? What is your strength? Gradually your image becomes a radiant light. This mysterious piece of art helps us to love ourselves a bit more and to make our strengths glow. A crucial condition for happiness.

On the other side of the square the Social Fund has constructed a piece of art, composed by 30.000 old coins. It represents a lotus flower and is called ‘Het Slijk der Aarde’, which means that money is the root of evil. What does money mean to your?

A vivid statue represents one of the most famous Flemish actors Luc Philips in action. Imagine you would get a statue somewhere. Which pose would you take? Take a picture of you as a statue.

You’ll find tasty food in the Italian restaurant ‘Il Pasticcio’ or in ‘t Kookpunt. Just across the last one you can have a beer in ‘Het Hemelrijk’, which means ‘Heaven’. It is famous for its selection of more than 400 brands of beer. The taste of each brand is described to tease all your senses.

The carillon of the cathedral can be visited each first Saturday of the month.