Ommegang is a magnificent event held at the Grand Place in Brussels (B) every year in early July. At first, the Ommegang - literally meaning "go around (the church)" - was a religious procession during which the relics of saints or statues deemed miraculous were taken out and borne in a procession around the building of worship where they were kept. Today, the Ommegang is part of Brussels folklore.
It is from 1549 onwards that this grand tradition for the citizens of Brussels has been linked to the name of the Emperor Charles V. Given its prestige, the Ommegang was chosen as the major reception event that the city of Brussels organized in honour of Emperor Charles V, when he introduced his son, the future Philippe II, to the regions forming his empire. Many European regions depended on Charles V: the diversity of territories over which he ruled made him the emperor of Spain, Netherlands (Belgium and nowadays’ Netherlands), Austria and the kingdom of Naples.
Although history established new political relations with the emergence of democracy, his idea of harmoniously bringing together a heterogeneous group of regions is still relevant. The Assembly of European Regions, as the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe, is pursuing this goal. AER is therefore delighted to participate to the Ommegang in 2012 as the guest of honour and hope to show to the world that Europe's strength lies in its regions. Just as in 1549 when Charles V introduced his son at the Ommegang, we will have the opportunity to present our member regions!
Charles V was both the last and the first European knight; he left his mark on an era that saw profound changes taking place, at political, economic, religious, cultural levels as well as changing mentalities. He is an outstanding figure of our European history.