Belgium museum showcases the country’s best known export – chocolate
Although Belgium may be small in size, it’s definitely famous for its wide variety of products such as beer, frites and waffles.
But, as good as these are, nothing quite beats the delicious, creamy taste of Belgian chocolate.
The question though is how did this sweet treat become so wildly popular throughout the centuries?
Also, who was responsible for the invention of the ever so addictive praline?
The story of how this all started in Belgium is told at Chocolate Nation, a museum located directly opposite Central Station in Antwerp.
It is said to be the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world (Tel: 03 207 0808) , entirely devoted to Belgian chocolate. It is apt that it is Belgium’s 2nd city as Belgium’s very first chocolate factory opened in Antwerp in 1831.
These days, there’s a chocolate shop on pretty much every town in the country but back in the 17th century, when Belgium was still ruled by the Spanish, explorers brought cocoa beans from South America and introduced them to the Belgian community.
At the time, chocolate was a sign of luxury and the first time Belgium truly delved into the chocolate market was when it colonized the Congo and found a large surplus of cocoa beans.
The Museum helps you discover artisanal chocolatiers with some heavenly creations.
The Port of Antwerp is the largest storage site of cacao beans in the world and top chocolatiers are trained at the Provincial Institute for the Catering Industry of Antwerp (PIVA).
So it’s hardly surprising that a chocolate experience was launched in the Flemish city.
Chocolate Nation tells the story of Belgian chocolate and is packed with experiences and tales of chocolate brands and chocolatiers. It gives visitors a unique insight into Belgian chocolate traditions and innovations.
You see how a life-size, mobile, imaginary machine makes Belgian chocolate and discover why Belgian chocolate is so famous.
The museum has its own bean-to-bar atelier where chocolatiers roast selected cocoa beans and process them into chocolate. The chocolate is then processed in the atelier into all kinds of homemade chocolate products. Visitors can see the chocolatiers at work in the atelier during a tour of the museum.
Chocolate Nation also organises workshops for groups on request or for individuals on a number of fixed dates during the year. In addition, thematic workshops are also regularly organised.
In 2021, Belgian chocolate is world-renowned and continues to play a strong role in the Belgian economy. Overall, there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country.
But to find out why the connection between Belgium and chocolate remains so strong, try to fit in a visit to this fine Museum.