Ok, I know it’s a bit of a cop out to post about a reconstitution (read: replicas) of the Terracotta Army in Brussels. However, because I had yet to see the inside of the Brussels Stock Exhange (la Bourse), I figured why not kill two birds with one stone? Not only would I get the chance to learn about this historic marvel, but I would also have the chance to admire the neo-renaissance beauty of the building that is home to Belgium’s stock exchange.
The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures – made from, what else, terracotta – that depict the army of the first Emperor of China. Similar to other ancient cultures (such as the pharaohs of Egypt) the army was created to protect the emperor in his afterlife and each statue was sealed in an enormous subterranean tomb with the emperor upon his death in 209 BC.
Let’s hope the toil of 700,000 indentured labourers and craftsmen served the emperor well in the hereafter.
The army consists of figures that represented the exact number of military personnel, musicians, acrobats and other members of the emperor’s court and was discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Xi’an, a village in the northeastern province of Shaanxi. Since 1974, 8,000 pieces have been unearthed and the historical treasure has brought countless tourists to Xi’an. Sadly, the farmers who made the initial discovery were paid a ridiculously small sum for their monumental UNESCO world heritage find.
Not terribly good value for money.
The Belgian reconstitution is to scale and more than 150 warriors, horses and chariots currently seek refuge in la Bourse providing visitors with insight into the fascinating history of Imperial China and a snapshot of the enormity of the archaeological site itself.
Yes, the statues are only replicas, but if you know you won’t be in China any time soon – and find yourself in Brussels – then visiting the terracotta masterpieces is a worthwhile and interesting way to spend several hours on a grey, rainy day. I know I’ve been inspired to plan a trip to China in the very near future.
Not only is the army available for viewing, but so is the splendor of the stock exchange building. An added bonus given that la Bourse is normally closed to visitors.
The Terracotta Army exhibition runs until February 17th, 2013 and is open every day from 10:00 – 18:00.
Tickets: Monday to Friday – 11€ for adults, 6€ for children (free under 5 years). Weekends – 13€ for adults, 7€ for children (free under 5 years).