A 11 km walk around Grimbergen that takes in a castle, basilica, abbey, a park, and a few chapels and watermills
Thanks to Discovering Belgium follower and Grimbergen resident Ann Barleycorn for suggesting I visit this area. There are various starting points for this walk around Grimbergen. If you are arriving in Grimbergen by bus then a good starting point is Pastoor Woutersstraat 1, which is right in the centre of Grimbergen. I was arriving by car so didn’t want to park in the centre. I chose to start from the s’Gravenmolen brasserie at s’Gravenmolenstraat 70. This would also be a good place to have a meal at the end of your walk.
The walk is not signposted but follows the numbered walking nodes. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s because the signposts are virtual. You have to follow them on the Wandelknooppunt app: 69 – 68 – 61 – 60 – 6 – 626 – 627 – 620 – 629 – 628 – 601 – 600 – 69. Or you could follow the map below (downloadable as a PDF here). Or you could get the GPX track from my page over at RouteYou.
It’s an easy walk, mostly along pleasant footpaths or small lanes. And there’s plenty of points of interest along the way.
Actually if you’re really squeezed for time you could enjoy a pleasant hour in the Prinsenbos and then stroll around the centre of Grimbergen.
At the south end of the Prinsenbos you’ll come across the remains of the Prinsenkasteel (Prince’s castle) with its moat. It’s in a pretty bad way at the moment, having been left virtually uncared for since the Second World War when retreating German soldiers set fire to the castle. But you can get some idea of its former splendour. There are plans in the pipeline to restore it. The castle dates back to the 15th century and was the residence of the lords of Grimbergen.
MUSEUM OF OLD TECHNIQUES
The Museum of Old Techniques is I think one of the gems of Grimbergen. It’s spread over three sites (the other two come later on the walk). Next to the Prinsenkasteel is the museums’s Guldendal location which houses a wide collection of hand tools, workbenches, lathes, carding stools, ropes, workwear, measuring tools, vehicles, household goods, stoves, lighting fixtures, textiles and kitchenware. When I was passing through it was closed due to COVID-19 but is now open again, every day through the summer from 10 to 5.
SAINT SERVAIS BASILICA
Towering over the town centre is the huge Saint Servais Basilica. Originally “just” an abbey church, it was elevated to a basilica in 2000. It’s apparently one of the finest examples of Baroque style in the Low Countries. Again, thanks to COVID-19 I was unable to go inside, but when it’s open you will be able to enjoy the Baroque carvings, such as the confessionals, the main altar and the choir stalls. Its sacristy is the largest in Belgium. The first stones of the church were laid in 1660.
So big is the basilica that you would think Grimbergen wouldn’t need any other places of worship. But in between junctions 627 and 620 along the Groete Kerkvoetweg, you’ll come across the Veldkant Chapel, a large neo-Gothic chapel. It was founded in 1872 and masses took place here every Friday evening until recently. It’s now locked up and under chains but you can still peek inside:
One interesting fact: no-one knows who owns it! The last known owner was Josephine De Naeyer, who acquired the chapel in 1907. She had three children: Emmanuel Risack (°1888), Alexandre Risack (°1889) and Madeleine Risack (°1891) of whom there is no trace today. Given their years of birth, they too would have died by now. So if those names ring a bell, drop me a line.
As you reach the furthest east spot of the walk and turn back towards Grimbergen along the Oyenbrugstraat, you will come across two lovely watermills on the Maalbeek. These are the other two locations of the Museum of Old Techniques. The Tommenmolen Mill is a water-powered grain mill, originally owned by the lords of Ter Tommen, but was later acquired by Grimbergen Abbey. The current mill building dates from the 16th century, but was thoroughly renovated in the 19th century.
The second watermill on the Maalbeek, and the third location of the Museum of Old Techniques, is the Liermolen grain mill. Originally it was owned by the de Lira family. In 1341, it was bought by Grimbergen Abbey. The current mill building dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.
I hope you enjoyed this walk around Grimbergen and a brief introduction to the town and area. There’s actually a lot more to see and visit in this town and the surrounding area such as the MIRA astronomical observatory and the Abbey Beer Museum. If you didn’t already know, Grimbergen has its own beer. And a new brewery recently opened in the abbey, following a 200-year-old recipe! Any questions, just ask, or add a comment or suggestion below. And for more walks and ideas for a day out in Belgium, drop your email below:
Great walk, Denzil, though I’d probably lose the other half in that museum! He’d be fascinated. 🙂 🙂 Happy Sunday!
You’d have to meet up for a Grimbergen beer at one of the watermill! Yes, enjoy your Sunday too Jo!
What a beautiful walk Denzil, with so much to see. I never thought of a chapel actually being owned by anyone. I wonder if someone who knows more will read this post and give more information.
Yes, it will be interesting Carol. I always thought it was the local council who owned these chapels. Apparently not.
sounds like a real adventure following numbered nodes! What a lovely walk and so much to see and do.
Yes those numbered nodes are a great invention Becky, for walking and cycling.
I clicked because the mill looked so pretty. The whole town is just beautiful
Yes that particular mill was very picturesque. Thanks for dropping by Christopher. I like your photos!
Glad you enjoyed your walk. There are lots of others of course mainly through the fields and on the one over the highest point in Grimbergen (Kraaienberg) you even get a wonderful view of the Brussels skyline including the Atomium, which seems very close!
Yes I have been up there counting migrating birds Ann. Lovely views over Brussels, for sure.
Nice walk Denzil.
I visited this place some years ago with Belgium Digital.
Prinsenkasteel, The Museum of Old Techniques, the Veldkant Chapel and the Liermolen!
Yes Jacques; plenty of photogenic locations!
I like the look of that, especially the Museum of Old Techniques. The description makes me think of Bokrijk, which we have enjoyed several times
I think it’s similar but Bokrijk has a lot more space available.
Fascinating walk and you provide very tasty tidbits to entice us to explore.
Thanks Pat. You’re right; I aim to entice and encourage rather than tell all.
You slip teaser you. 🙂 You slip in an inviting description.
Another interesting and picturesque walk, you’ve really bumped Belgium way up my list of travel priorities. Watermills, castles, a very handsome museum, and a good place to eat. I clicked on the link to the Abbey brewing and saw Father Karel Stautemas toasting with their medieval-style beer, that’s more than double the alcohol content of the mass-produced beers here in the U.S., I might save that until the walk is completed and I’ve found my car again. Other than having the roof burned off, the castle looks in very good shape, I hope they find the funds to restore it.
I suppose the good point about beer that is double strength is that you only need to drink half the amount. Not sure that concept is practical when you’ve a couple of Grimbergens. Apparently it affects the memory!
Love the photo of the Liermolen grain mill. It reminded me of a John Constable’s painting.
You’re right there Rosaliene!
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Hello, thank you for the information. Can you recall the nodes for the water mills? I am planning a shorten version of the hike and I don’t want to cut out the water mills.
Hi Tanya, I think you probably the section from 620 to 629, 628 and 601. Let me know how you get on. Any questions and drop me a WhatsApp (see contact page).