19 Sept 2009

Journees du Patrimoine: Tour Eben-Ezer

So, after several "real-life" related delays, we've finally made it to Day 2 of the Journées du Patrimoine! This year's theme was "Patrimoine et Modernité", making the star of the show modern constructions, which usually aren't my cup of tea. But when I read in the booklet about a modern (1962) tower built "old-style" with four winged animals crowing the corners... I couldn't resist!

Tour d'Eben-Ezer in Eben-Emael... here I come! ;o)

Here's where we're heading, it already looks freaky across the fields:

Walking around it towards the entrance...

It's a 30m high tower all built from silex! The site was originally a silex (you know, the material for arrowheads and stoneage tools?) quarry, and they found quite a few archaeological remains as they began the project. If you go to the Muséum du Silex website, you can find a collection of old photos from when it was being built.

These steps weren't very easy to handle (between the height and the material...)

Ready for a closer look?

The Tower wasn't built as a residence, it was supposed to be a manifestation of its creator's - Robert Garcet - personal philosophy, of his beliefs, of his anti-conformity. He was an amateur historian, paleontologist, anthropologist. He was a writer and a sculptor. He was anti-clerical and anti-war and I'd say generally anti-establishment! Apparently (from the anecdotes told by our guide who worked with him many years before he passed away in 2001) he was quite a character! He wouldn't let anyone in who was wearing a uniform... and that goes for the local priest who used to wear a cassock (before they abandoned those) to a military group that was coming to visit (he said no problem as long as they didn't show up in uniform... apparently the head of the troup showed up wearing a Hawaiian shirt!). If you can read French you can find out more about him here (click on Robert Garcet). This was the original welcome sign:


To Pacifists, Internationalists, Optimists, Anarchists (?), War Resistants,
To all those who fight for peace,
To all those who engender Fraternity.

The inscription around the door is a statement of the rights and obligations of humanity:

Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité -> the original statement from the Declaration of the Rights of Man (written in the French Revolution) = Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

But having rights also means having to fulfill certain obligations, and according to the architect these are: Aimer - Penser - Créer = Love, Think, Create.

The tower is rife with symbolic references, nothing in its construction or décor was left to chance. Dating back to the Tower of Babel, towers have symbolised a link between men and the gods, they're anchored to the ground but reach up to the heavens. Robert Garcet's objective in building his tower was for it to be a means for men to reach another existencial plain by following a path of knowledge. The Eben-Ezer tower represents Humanity as she is represented in the Bible by the Celestial Jerusalem, a mythical city of 12000 "stades" (2160km) in length. Not having that large a space for his tower Garcet did keep the same proportions in his work and the sides of the Tower measure each 12m. (text adapted from the website)

How 'bout we go on inside?

Damn, I just realised I didn't get a complete picture of the main room, just the details! The room was an interpretation of the Apocalypse.

In the centre was the column holding up the upper structure. A hidden column, all we can see are the four cherubims in the Apocalypse shoulder to shoulder around it, with the heads of a lion, a woman, a bull and an eagle:

In the four corners can be found the four horsemen of the Apocalypse:

Our philosopher interpreted the Apocalypse as an end of the wars, a period of peace. Among things he condemns in these odd images are all of humanity's wars, and here's a looong list:

And check out this dinosaur!

I believe a Mosasaur, a species from the Cretacean discovered in this region (near Maastricht). He's got his foot on a sacrificial lamb, above his back are various slogans man has fought over throughout history:

His head is leaning on a Bible:

Open to the Gospel of Matthew, high-lighting what he believed to be the most important commandment, the one which sadly almost no-one obeys:

"Love thy neighbour as thyself"

Time to make our way UP the tower.

Check out this room:

an aquatic festival! full of models and fossils of aquatic critters from the Cretacean and photos of great scientists. A banner in the corner is another manifesto:

"A Nation will no longer draw a sword against another and we will no longer learn War..."
But where I really wanted to be was all the way on top, with those statues (the four cherubims from the Apocalypse) we saw from a distance... The spiral staircase leads up and out under a lion! Written around the wall:

"Like a Lion I stand on the tower all day long and I am at my post every night.
She is fallen! She is fallen Babylon the (...)
And all the images of her gods are broken!"
I really liked that lion:

Isn't it gorgeous?!

The other three corners were occupied by a Sphinx:

A winged Bull:

and a Griffin:

Check out the view from up here, breathtaking even on an overcast day:

Time to leave, and say farewell to these guys who look just as impressive from below:

And voilà! A couple of days late due to an annoying element called work, but better late than never! :p
After the Tower I headed in to visit my favourite Church in Liège that is sadly rarely open due to Restoration, but I'll leave it for another day/week when I get around to talking about the many churches in this city! ;o)
I hope you enjoyed re-visiting the Journées du Patrimoine with me!


  1. This place is awesome! He was definitely making a statement!

  2. WOW!
    thank you for the travelogue!

  3. I'll say! I found this place amazing too! And so did my camera... which is one of the reasons it took me so long to put this piece together... I was having trouble choosing a "limited" selection of photos! :p

  4. You have an award waiting for you on my blog! Please collect it!

  5. Namaste....Thanks for sharing photos from your journey. They are breathtaking.

  6. Wow! This is really impressive! Thank you for all the great pictures. :-) I will share this with my friends on Facebook, so that any of them who are traveling in Europe can see this powerful statement of peace.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! It was a truly awe-inspiring place! :o)


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