Brussels Active Crossbow Guild and Museum
Despite being a modern capital city, Brussels
is still very much in touch which its historic past. Festivals, parades, architecture and traditions all hint at times gone by. One fascinating tradition is still active in Brussels and you can see it in action every Thursday night, near Place Royal. Tucked behind the museums and palace is a nondescript door, leading to a time gone by. It opens into the home of the Grand Serment Royal et de Saint-Georges des Arbalétriers de Bruxelles - the Crossbow Guild of Brussels. At one time, Brussels had many crossbowmen who protected the city walls from intruders. These days, they let the tourists in, but the crossbowmen (and now women) remain. The current mandate of the guild is to preserve the history and traditions of the crossbowmen and to teach others about this fascinating trade. Their guildhall is now a museum dedicated to the guild's history. It still contains three shooting ranges of different lengths, where members practice every night. Meetings are open to the public (but are conducted in French) and new guild members are welcome. Being Belgium, there is a bar stocked with Ommegang beer, named for a historic pageant that was once integral to the crossbow guilds. It's a fascinating way to watch history come to life before your eyes.