Brussels applies to have puppet theatre and flower carpet recognised by UNESCO

The Brussels-Capital Region will apply to UNESCO requesting recognition for the city's puppet theatre and the flower carpet on the Grand Place as World Heritage Sites, Brussels state secretary for Heritage Ans Persoons announced on Friday.

Brussels hopes to protect and promote its historical-cultural traditions through recognition by UNESCO. The planning authority has been working on two applications that will be submitted to UNESCO at the end of March.


The application for the puppet theatre, which began three years ago, will be submitted by the Permanent Delegation of Belgium to UNESCO. The flower carpet application has been in progress for 10 years and is presented by Spain and signed by Italy, Malta, Mexico and Belgium. It is part of an international dossier on the ephemeral art of "creating flower carpets and other arrangements with natural materials". A decision will be made by December 2025.

The Royal Puppet Theatre Toone in the centre of Brussels gives four performances a week and has more than 30 versions of shows in its repertoire.

"The rod puppet in Brussels represents four centuries of folk tradition. It is an art that promotes fundamental values such as education for all, freedom of expression, social cohesion and the bonds between generations," says Nicolas Géal, the theatre's director.

Rod puppets were especially popular in Brussels in the 19th century, but the Royal Puppet Theatre Toone is the only company to remain active.


Meanwhile, flower carpets have played a role in Belgian heritage over the last century. The first dates from 1952, and in 1971, the Grand Place was covered in flowers for the first time. The tradition comes from Spain and the areas around the Mediterranean.

While the custom has historically had religious affiliations, in Belgium, it is more tied to the beauty of nature. To date, 21 flower carpets have been created on the Grand Place.

"By applying for recognition as intangible heritage from UNESCO, we ensure a rich and living legacy for future generations and confirm Belgium's unique position on the world cultural stage," said Delphine Houba, Brussels city councillor and president of the non-profit organisation Tapis de Fleurs de Bruxelles, which organises the flower carpet.


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