Monday, September 07, 2009


While much of Flanders, Belgium's northern region, is rather boringly flat, there's some regions were a modest relief lends the landscape sometimes surprising grace and beauty. One such region is called the Heuvelland, in the south of the province of West Flanders. The photo shows the village of Loker with is typical steeple-less church (which reminds me of English countryside churches).

The slumped hill on the background is the Kemmelberg, a 156m high hilltop dominating the area. The pleasant scenery hides the fact that under it, there's a gigantic bunker complex built by the Belgian Army in the fifties. This command bunker was to be NATO's nerve center for the Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands-Luxemburg) in case of a Soviet invasion during the Cold War. It was in use till 1995, and is scheduled to open this very fall as a tourist attraction, much like the UK's underground facility in Troywood, Scotland.

As much as I like the Heuvelland (literally Hill Country), I still prefer the Ardennes for hiking, a favorite pastime on those rare occasions when there is time. Scheduled for this fall is a trek with some good friends in Belgium's "extreme" south, along the Semois river. For those who would like to check out the area, I recommend the places on this map.

The village of Poupehan.


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