Somewhere in the Limburg fields of Borgloon, there is a real sculpture of contemporary art: the Reading Between the Lines church.
We visited the church, wrote down its history, and when it is best to visit it.
About the Reading Between the Lines Church
The Reading Between the Lines Church is a metallic installation located in the peaceful fields around Borgloon. The art installation is a modern optical illusion: from some angles, it will look transparent; however, from other points-of-view, you’ll see a solid structure.
This unique see-through church installation was designed and built by an art collective called Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, which is actually a contraction of two names: Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh. Both artists/architects have been working on this project since 2007 but only came to life in 2011 in collaboration with a local contemporary art center: Z33.
Beyond being an optical illusion, the sculpture is designed for people to enter: It is 10 meters high, weighs 30 tons, and can also serve as a shelter from the rain, as it is waterproof. Because the sculpture is located on a hill, they have used armed concrete as its foundation.
Because the construction is considered transparent, it has been given the name Reading Between the Lines. With this special construction method, the artist makes sure the landscape is always visible throughout the church, both from afar away as from up-close. This gives the visitors the option to choose what they see: the underlying landscape or the work of art.
Basic facts about the Reading Between the Lines Church
While the church appears to be see-through from some angles, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh made sure that the structure is built so that no water enters when it rains.
|Artist||Gijs Van Vaerenbergh (Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh)|
|Names||Doorkijkkerk, Reading Between the Lines Church, The See-through Church, Borgloon Church|
|GPS Coordinates||50.7941483° N, 5.3517457° E|
How the Reading Between the Lines Chapel is made
At a certain point in time, the town of Borgloon contained over 24 churches, which inspired Gijs Van Vaerenbergh when building this sculpture. The inspiration even went so far that the artwork was made using a laser scan of a real church and afterward – with the help from the scan, digital drawings, and technical sketches – transformed into this final form.
The artist filmed everything during the work’s construction with a time-lapse video that can be seen below.
Z33’s Z-OUT project
Z33, an arts center focussed on experimental and contemporary art located in Hasselt, launched an art exhibition called “Z-OUT” in 2011, which formed the basis of this see-through church.
The Museum Z33’s Z-OUT project consisted of a series of art installations, meant to attract visitors to the region in the hopes they would see the landscape of the Borgloon and discover its beauty.
The various sculptures’ popularity has led the region’s tourist office to map out a cycling route that passes by the various works of art created by this Z33 project.
Over the years, the following projects were created:
- Canal Pavilion by Atelier Amont, Z33, and A2O
- Once again the artist militia meets in an unruly group portrait by Rinus Van de Velde
- The Green House by Krijn de Koning
- The Rock Show by Erik Odijk
- Picturesque Sketches: after Léon Becker by Nils Norman
- Gravitational Waves by Tomás Saraceno
- Reading between the Lines by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh
- Untitled #158 by Aeneas Wilder
- Memento by Wesley Meuris
- Twijfelgrens by Fred Eerdekens
- Tranendreef by Dré Wapenaer
- Proximity effect by Paul Devens
How to reach the Reading Between the Lines Church
The Reading Between the Lines sculpture is situated on a hill, on the edge of the town, and has a panoramic view looking down on the nearby villages.
The transparent church is located between fruit orchards and vineyards, so we would advise you to park on the main road and walk to the sculpture from there. A small free car park has been provided for this purpose, of which some “Doorkijkkerk” signs along the roadside indicate the way to the installation.
When to visit the See-through Church
The church is best seen at sunrise or sunset because the light magically appears between the artwork’s cracks during this moment. From our experience, you will be able to capture the best shots during the golden hour in the evening.
The area mainly consists of nature and flowers, which means you are best to visit the Reading Between The Lines church from March to May, as everything will already be in bloom during this period.
You should also note that the place can get pretty packed during weekends and school holidays since family picnics are pretty common here. You shouldn’t be surprised if you needed to queue up to enter the church.
What to do at the Reading Between the Lines Church
This church is located on the edge of the village, in the middle of the fields, so there are not many neighborhood activities. The most popular?
- Cycling. A Bike Tour around the Z33 Route.
- Picknick. In order not to leave any waste behind, we recommend packing according to the zero-waste lifestyle.
Other attractions near the Reading Between the Lines Church
We suspect that a visit to the See-Through Church of Borgloon isn’t going to take you longer than an hour. So here are a couple of other places to visit to enjoy a day trip in Limburg:
- Z-OUT Route. Visit the other sculptures of the Z33 art project.
- The Grand Commandery Alden-Biesen. The castle has one of the largest and most impressive estates in Europe.
- The Schulensmeer: Flanders’ largest human-made lake
- De Maten. An authentic and protected nature reserve.
- The Hoge Kempen. Belgium’s only national park.
Photographing the Reading Between the Lines Church
The most tricky part of photographing the Reading Between the Lines Church is to show up at the best time, especially because the sun appears – or disappears – so beautifully between the artworks cracks, making it easy to create unique content.
Borgloon is not marked as a no-fly zone, so as long as you respect the new 2021 European drone regulations, you can fly here.
As an experienced and published photographer, my camera bag grew throughout the years. It currently contains various cameras and lenses, each with its function and use – I’ve listed all of them below.
|Fujifilm X-E2||The Fujifilm X-E2 has been my go-to camera for years and is the camera I used for shooting the photos of Lago di Resia.|
|Fujifilm X-T30||The Fujifilm X-T30 is my favorite camera for making video content, which I mainly used at Lago di Resia for B-roll footage and background videos.|
|Fujifilm 35mm F1.4 lens||My all-time favorite lens. I always have it mounted on my X-E2 camera. I have a polarizing filter screwed on as standard, which captures the sky more beautifully.|
|Fujifilm 18-55mm F2.8-4 lens||The 18-55m is the regular FujiFilm kit lens, perfect for creating video content.|
|Huawei P30 Pro Smartphone||When there is no time to open my camera bag, I use my P30 Pro. It can save RAW photos, making it easy to edit photos instantly in the Lightroom app.|
For aspiring photographers, landscape photography might seem like black magic. This is why we decided to break down the technical details behind this shot.
- ISO: 200
- Aperture: f/6.4
- Shutter Speed: 1/15sec