Eupen: the Capital of German-speaking Belgium

By Ruben

BELGIUM – It is well known that Belgium is divided into two roughly equal parts: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south. But it is less known that a small part in the east of the Walloon province of Liège is German speaking. Part of an area nowadays simply called Ostbelgien, the German-speaking Community of Belgium consists of two out of three cantons (the third is and was always French speaking) ceded to Belgium following World War 1 and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. While the land is part of the Walloon region, the community itself has its own parliament in the town of Eupen, which I visited with a friend in December 2007.

Initially planning to walk to Eupen from the ‘three-country point’ of The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, we missed our stop and ended up taking another bus from the outskirts of the German town of Aachen. This brought us to the village of Kelmis (FR: La Calamine) which was in the independent state of Neutral Moresnet from 1816 to 1920 (you can read more about it in this post).

A very German-looking building in Kelmis:

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Walking south from Kelmis:

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Church in Lontzen:

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Despite only having 20,000 inhabitants, Eupen, where we arrived around 10, is a proper capital. Apart from the aforementioned parliament, it also has a small university and an upper and lower town.

View from our hotel on the main square (in the upper town):

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The 18th century Church of Saint-Nicolas seen from our hotel:

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The Franciscan Convent, which is also known as Haus Vercken and was also built in the 18th century:

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The 19th century Friedenskirche (Church of Peace):

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Houses clad with a kind of roofing, which is more typical of the adjacent part of Germany than of Belgium, are common in the region:

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The road down to the lower town:

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Like nearby Verviers, Eupen was long a center of the textile industry:

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Looking back up to the upper town:

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The lower town (which seemed to be more French-speaking than the upper town) and the 19th century Church of Saint Joseph:

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The River Vesdre (D: Weser):

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Leaving Eupen…

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… and walking through some dark woods…

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…brought us to a local landmark: the Wesertalsperre, which was completed in 1950 and is one of a number of hydroelectric dams in the region (you can see another in this post):

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The Vesdre again:

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Another very German-looking building on the road back to town:

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Back in Eupen, from where we took a train to our next destination:

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This entry was posted in Belgium, Eupen, Province of Liège, Waimes, Wallonia

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