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Prehistoric Weris, Radhadesh Castle


Home -> Europe -> Belgium -> Travelogue Belgium -> 19 & 20 December 2005

Monday 19 December, prehistoric Weris, Radhadesh Castle

New snow has replaced the snow that has disappeared yesterday. It is cold and wet outside and a heavy layer of mist conceals the landscape. We spend the morning doing nothing in our cottage, but there is still so much to see around here that we have to go out, if only for a few hours..
Cairn at Weris Cairn at WerisThe roads are very slippery today so we have to be careful, especially on the narrow tracks that lead us to the cairns around Weris, which are called dolmen here, and some of the menhirs. This is the southern dolmen with 20 heavy rocks and there are some menhirs standing around it.
Cairn at Weris Cairn at WerisThe northern dolmen lies in a ditch (maybe excavated in later times?) and on the picture to the right you can see that a special stone with a sort of door in it has been used, or the opening might have been chiseled into that form, we are not sure. But we have never seen a stone like that in a dolmen or cairn, quite unique.
There are also lots of menhirs, standing stones, around this place and we come across a few of them, and the 'Lit du Diable', the Devil's bed, used for (human?) sacrifices some people think. We wanted to do the long walking tour that would take us to most of these ancient sites, but it is so wet and cold that we decide to use the car as much as possible. It is almost impossible to imagine how people could survive here with this kind of weather. The ice age was already long over when people build these ancient monuments but we imagine they had cold winters, too.
House at Durbuy Castle of DurbuyWe are cold and wet when we drive to Durbuy to have a warm coffee in a warm restaurant. This time we approach Durbuy from above and have a nice view on the castle; it looks more imposing from here than from the village itself.
Radhadesh castleAnd we still haven't visited the castle nearest to our holiday park: Radhadesh, or Chateau de Petite Somme. Originally a 13th century castle, it has been completely renovated and is now the headquarters of the Hare-Krishna community of the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg).
Elisabeth with flowersRadhadesh is a spiritual community with about 80 people living in and around the castle and there are guided visits everyday. We seem to be the only ones today, and we are welcomed heartily by David, our guide. The first thing he does is giving us necklaces with flowers.
The tour takes about an hour and starts with a film about the history of the castle and about its present inhabitants. And also a clear explanation about the Krishna movement, which is much better than what we saw about the ESA yesterday in the European space center!
After this, we visit the temple which is beautiful, the spiritual heart of the castle and the community. David is eager to answer all our questions and although we do not agree with him on some points, we appreciate his honesty and sincerity and we can feel this place is alive, as we sometimes feel in castles or some churches. We don't want to take pictures here, so we don't ask. Later he tells us we can take photographs everywhere, but this was clearly a holy place and we have no regrets that we don't have a picture.
Krishna Painting at Radhadesh castleKrishna (on the left) came to earth in the 15th century as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Shrila Prabhupada (his real name is much longer) brought this philosophy to the west, travelling around the world and founding Krishna centers. The holy book of the Krishna movement is the Bhagavad-gita, one of the oldest books written.
A religion or philosophy that teaches nonviolence can't be bad in our eyes and deserves respect.
View from Radhadesh castle David, our guide at Radhadesh castleDavid also takes us to the roof of the castle where he has fun throwing snowballs at friends. We enjoy the view and the landscape covered in mist. This castle surely has fallen into the right hands, otherwise it would probably have been a ruin.
After this pleasant visit we drive around a bit through the small villages around Durbuy but the visibility is becoming worse and before dark we return to our cottage. We have had a great week with lots of rest and relaxation here. And we have seen a few things, but only a small part of all there is to see and do, especially in the summer. It is not so far from our home, so we could (should) come easily here again for another short holiday.

Tuesday 20 December 2005, visit to Durbuy and the neighbourhood

Rural villageOur last day, we have to return home today, since we have to babysit our granddaughter tonight and tomorrow. It is also the first day that we get up early since we want to drive around a bit more through Belgium before we go home. Before 10 we have left the park, taking small roads on our way to Coo where we want to see the waterfalls. Along one of these roads we see this idyllic place, a small river and some houses near the woods. It must be great to live in such an environment, especially when you are a kid. Only a pity that the road is so close.
Chateau de Froide Coeur, Stoumont Coo waterfallsJust outside Stoumont we see this castle, the Chateau de Froidcour or the 'castle of the cold heart'. We don't know where this name comes but we are sure one of our readers will come up with an idea!
At Coo we visit the artificial waterfalls, made by monks in the 18th century. Before that the river made almost a full circle (a meander) of almost a kilometer long.
Signal de Botrange, highest point of BelgiumThen we drive to the Hautes Fagnes, the national park in the north east of Belgium where the Ardennes have their highest point (and of Belgium). Signal de Botrange is 694 (696 says one map) above sea level and a staircase brings us up to 700 meters. All the snow of the last few days is still present here. After this highlight we go straight back to Holland, taking the Autobahn through Germany.
It is quiet on the roads and we are back home after a couple of hours. This has been a fine week with lots of rest which we really needed. It is a pity that we haven't seen more sun (for nicer photographs) but we are quite happy with our stay in Belgium and it is so close to home that we could do this more often. We will keep you informed!

 


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