I will never be able to stop admiring the loveliness Belgium has to offer – its rural landscapes, the stunning medieval mansions, the picturesque parks and the historic towns. And last, but foremost – the remarkably beautiful, romantic Ardennes, where I invite you to let yourself be enchanted by Malmedy and Château de Reinhardstein.
Malmedy is a small but charming historic town, situated at the confluence of the rivers Warchenne and Warche, right in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes. Founded in 648, the town is known for its festive spirit and the never-ending traditional and non-traditional carnivals and parades.
One interesting fact is that the municipality is not only part of Wallonia and the French-speaking community of Belgium, but represents the country’s German-speaking minority, which constitutes 5% of the country’s population. That is why the Malmedian culture, architecture and festivals are partly linked to the German ones.
The centre of the town is splendorous, cosy and picturesque. In the narrow streets, neat boutiques and artisan shops alternate with historic buildings and somewhat bizarre houses. Thousands of flowers are at every corner, around the street benches, on the lamp pillars, in huge stone pots, on the fences, even in ice-cream cones. And the fragrance is inebriating.
The Cathedral Saints-Pierre-et-Paul et Saint-Quirin used to be the church of the former Benedictine abbey, which was established in the 600s by Saint Remaclus. Many years later, the church was rebuilt in this stunning late Baroque-style cathedral.
The Malmedy Massacre Memorial is a tribute to the 48 US Army prisoners of war, who were executed by the German Army and SS in 1944. A bit off the beaten track, the visit to the memorial is a mandatory detour for everyone who is a history buff or wants to pay their respects to the victims. It is quite humbling to walk the ground where this tragedy took place, but that is the main reason for places like this to exist – to remind us of the mistakes of the past.
Château de Reinhardstein rises proudly at the edge of the High Fens, in the middle of the forest. This mighty fortress was built in 1354 by Renaud de Waimes.
Later, following the extinction of the Waimes family, the Reinhardstein Castle passed through the hands of the families Zivelle, Brandscheid and Nassau. It has changed owners several times over the years, until 1965, when the Belgian teacher Jean Overloop discovered the almost completely destroyed castle and revived it from its ruins. And so today, the Reinhardstein Castle lives again!
Visitors can enjoy various parts of the castle that shelter superb collections of armour and weapons, tapestries and furniture, but also several priceless statues and robes of clergy and monarchs.
What better ending of this adventure than a walk in nature? Just take the narrow path at the back of the castle, and amazing views will be revealed before your eyes. Cross the lovely stream a few times, and you will discover a small but gorgeous waterfall hiding among the trees. This is the highest waterfall in Belgium, and although it is quite narrow and not entirely visible, the experience is absolutely worth it.
It was a pleasure for me to take you through one of my favourite places in the Ardennes. I managed to touch upon only a small part of the attractions that you could discover there. You will be enchanted by Malmedy, the Château de Reinhardstein and the amazingly picturesque nature hosting them. And I am sure, you will be back!
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