Voeren, the green respite in the highest part of Flanders


Hiking or biking through a lively hilly region where time seems to have stood still, close to home? Then Voeren beckons, blessed with pristine nature, castles, square farms, half-timbered houses, chapels, specific flora and fauna ... and blissful tranquillity. After the troubles of a not-so-distant turbulent past, this peace that reigns feels extra good.

Six villages make up the highest Flemish municipality that is farthest from the sea. The climate there is a touch more continental, while at the same time more southerly. On the sunlit south-facing valley slopes, you will find animals and plants that are absent further north. By the way, also several award-winning wine estates, courtesy of the calciferous and mineral-rich soil. Definitely worth tasting, in addition to the other local delicacies: artisanal apple and pear syrup, sloe gin and trout, for example.

Don't miss the picturesque half-timbered houses either, built on a base of flint and consisting of a skeleton of struts, rails and hoardings. Or the former Command Post of the Teutonic Order in Sint-Pieters-Voeren, one of the other five castles, the paternoster of road crossings recalling some ancient accident. Also admire the technical ingenuity of such works of art as the 250 m long railroad viaduct, which rises 18 to 23 m above the landscape of Sint-Martens-Voeren, or the 2 km long tunnel on the former Tongeren-Aachen railroad line, built by the Germans during WWI.

Take plenty of time to enjoy all that beauty