Even if you are not an art aficionado, you must have heard about René Magritte, Belgium’s most famous Surrealist painter. In the Belgian capital, you can visit two museums dedicated to the artist and his work. The biggest one is located in Brussels itself, near the Royal Palace and has become one of the main tourist attractions there. A smaller one is in the house in Jette where he used to live.
But there is a place elsewhere in Belgium, in the province of Hainaut, that has a very special link with Magritte, something not so many people know about. It’s the old cemetery in Soignies (Zinnik in Dutch), located not so far from the church. It was first mentioned around 1320 and lost its function as the main cemetery at the end of the 19th century. Nowadays it’s used as a park: a lot of tombstones have been relentlessly taken over by nature.
Anyway, as a child, Magritte used to come to Soignies on holidays. There, he liked to play at the old cemetery with one of his friends. And then one day, something caught his attention: a painter quietly working at the cemetery. At exactly that moment, a young Magritte knew that he wanted to become an artist as well. As an adult, he always thought fondly back of that precise time.
To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this information until I saw it in a tv program. And then I immediately knew I had to see this place for myself, especially since I have always been of Magritte and his work. So on a beautiful sunny autumn day in 2017, Lars and I drove to Soignies. As luck would have it we could park our car right next to the old cemetery.
With the golden sunlight piercing through the leaves of the trees, the whole scene looked so tranquil, almost fairytale-like,…
From the main entrance of the cemetery, you have a good look at the chapel, in the center. Unfortunately, it was closed.
Near Soignies is located the spring of the Senne, the river that runs through Brussels – although underground for the main part. Lars and I drove around for an hour in order to find it but failed miserably…
I will add more pictures of the old cemetery of Soignies shortly on our Instagram feed!