Belgium is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Western Europe. It’s also one of the prettiest. Known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture, chocolate, waffles and beer, tourists flock there every year. Depending on where you travel in Belgium, you’ll find various languages, including Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north, French-speaking Wallonia to the south and a German-speaking community to the east.
Regardless of where you wander, you’ll be smitten by charming villages rich in culture, history and picturesque scenery if you’re willing to trod off the beaten path. Here’s a list of several such villages that are waiting to be discovered by most.
Crupet is a charming little village perched on the hillsides of a cozy wooded valley. It’s home to numerous preserved mansions and small farmhouses made of sandstone or whitewashed limestone from the 16th to 19th centuries. A stunning piece of architecture is the Castle of Crupet, a medieval farm-chateau situated below the village center.
The Grotto of St Anthony of Padua dominates the village center; it was designed by the local curate Gerard and inaugurated on 12 July 1903. It features 22 religious-themed statues, of which many depict scenes from the life of St Anthony of Padua. Despite its size, Crupet is flourishing with industry, there are five windmills, a paper mill, a forge, a brewery, and local hospitality. Residents enjoy making their village as charming as possible.
Falaën’s is a tiny village in the Condroz region of Belgium that feels like it’s part of a medieval legend. Its beautiful countryside and cultural heritage can be discovered a the end of a subtly rippled landscape that is overlooked by the Montaigle Castle ruins. The castle was built in the 14th century, but was destroyed by Henry II of France in 1554.
Mozet is a serene village in the Walloon region of Belgium that hasn’t been overrun by tourism. It’s surrounded by meadows, groves and cattle. There are so many magical and hidden corners that will make you fall in love with the area. The old town center is dominated by the Saint-Lambert’s church built in a classical style and rebuilt in 1775 in blue stone. The entire village has gray limestone homes with black tinted slates making it an undeniable charming place.
Soiron is a village in Wallonia, Belgium, and is part of the municipality of Pepinster. It’s dominated by its magnificent castle and surrounded by hills, meadows and orchards. Their traditional homes are constructed in the spirit of the “Mosan Renaissance”. They combine brick, sandstone rubble and limestone which constitute the frameworks of doors and windows alike.
The castle was first mentioned in the 15th century as a square building with four asymmetrical towers and a moat. By 1587 it had deteriorated badly so in 1647 the Woelmont family purchased the castle. It has survived plunder, an earthquake, fire and the ravages of war.
The best places to experience are those that haven’t been hit by the deluge of tourism. The off the beaten path villages are by far the sweetest and most interesting places to stroll. The locals are more than willing to share a story, a cup of tea and a warm smile.