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Brabant Wallon is one of Belgium's ten provinces, stretching across 1,091 square kilometers. Walloon Brabant is located in the central part of the country, surrounded by the province of Flanders to the north, as well as the provinces of Hainaut, Namur, and Liège to the south. The area is home to approximately 355,207 people. Another prominent city from the historical point of view is Waterloo, known for the Battle of Waterloo when Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated. Today, battlefields near Waterloo feature an artificial hill providing panoramic views of the area and a museum commemorating the battle. Apart from historical landmarks, nature is another considerable draw to the Brabant Wallon province. The Natural Reserve of Gentissart is a local protected area featuring a wasteland, embankments, sandy areas, and wooded landscapes. For most of the province's history, the territory was part of a more extensive region called Brabant, which emerged as a feudal duchy in the 9th century. The region covered a larger territory, being centered in Louvain and Brussels. It wasn't until 1992 that the decision was made to divide the province of Brabant into two, the Wallon and Flemish. Thus, creating the Brabant Wallon as we know it today.
One of the renowned places in the Brabant Wallon province is the town of Waterloo, known for the Battle of Waterloo. The battle took place outside the city, where the Lion's Mound is located, commemorating the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, which led to his exile. The battle of Waterloo took place in 1815, and by 1826, the mound was constructed, featuring a statue of a lion as well as panoramic views from the top. In close proximity to the battlefield itself is located a former farmhouse, which was used by Napoleon's troops as a camp during the battle. Presently, the Caillou Farm, often called "Napoleon's last headquarters," holds a museum commemorating the battle and it also holds fight reenactments.
Another historical attraction in the Brabant Wallon province is the Castle of Hélécine, located halfway between Brussels and Liège. Heylissem Abbey was founded in the 12th century and became a prosperous Norbertine community in the Hesbaye region. During the wars, the abbey was fortified and became a battleground in the 16th and 17th centuries. An architect in the 18th century later restored it and developed it into a castle—Castle of Hélécine, named after the French Revolution. The castle was converted into a beet sugar factory in the 19th century and underwent further renovations. In 1962, the Province of Brabant purchased the castle and opened it to the public as a park. Currently, the castle serves as a reception area and seminar center that can accommodate 10 to 1,500 guests. The estate offers a 28-hectare park and a central courtyard that is suitable for various events.
In terms of natural areas in Brabant Wallon province, Bois des Rêves—a nature park located in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve—is a fairly prominent nature-oriented site in the heart of the region. The park covers an area of 67 hectares and strives to be dedicated to relaxation and outdoor activities. Bois des Rêves offers a chance to discover the fauna and flora of the region. Visitors can tour the Water and Fountain Museum in the park or enjoy the fishing pond with waterfowl. Bois des Rêves also features a marked walking path, a mountain bike trail, and a fitness trail.
The province of Walloon Brabant encompasses 27 municipalities and stretches across an area of 1,091 square kilometers. As of 2002, the province had a population of 355,207 people. Walloon Brabant shares borders with the Belgian region of Flanders to the north as well as the provinces of Hainaut, Namur, and Liège to the south. Walloon Brabant is situated in a natural region that includes the low-lying plateaux of Belgium and is intersected by three hydrographical systems, namely the valleys of the Senne and the Sennette in the west, the valley of the Dyle in the center, and the valleys of the Grande Gette and Petite Gette in the east. The physical geography of the region is characterized by two main features: the incision of the plateaux by significant rivers and their tributaries, which is more prominent towards the west, and the plateaux themselves, which are particularly evident in the southern part of the region as opposed to the north.
Concerning natural green areas, in the central part of the Brabant Wallon province, the Natural Reserve of Gentissart is found. The Gentissart sand pit is situated in Villers-la-Ville, between Tilly and Mellery. The area was reportedly purchased by the Province of Walloon Brabant in 1996 with the intention of creating a didactic site of biological interest. The local exploitation of sand has resulted in the formation of several unpolluted bodies of water stretching across nearly seven hectares of land, consisting of varied environments including wasteland, embankments, sandy areas, and wooded areas. The Gentissart site's Management Committee, consisting of 19 members, has conducted biodiversity inventories, revealing its potential for biological diversity.
Akin to the rest of Belgium, Brabant Wallon is influenced by maritime airstreams, resulting in a mild, rainy climate in the province. Regarding the average temperatures in Wavre, Brabant Wallon's capital, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 24°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures typically rest around 6°C on average. April tends to be the driest month in Wavre because it generally receives 50 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, as it receives an average of about 84 mm.
Brabant Wallon, as it is known today, historically started as Brabant, a feudal duchy that emerged after the decline of the Frankish Carolingian empire in the mid-9th century. It was centered in Louvain and Brussels and was a division of the former duchy of Lower Lorraine. Henry I, the Warrior of the House of Louvain, held the remnant of the duchy of Lower Lorraine, and in 1190, he assumed the title of Duke of Brabant. The dukes of Brabant had to guarantee the rights and privileges of local lords and burghers in exchange for financing their military and court expenditures. The Joyeuse Entrée, granted by Johanna and her husband, Duke Wenceslas of Luxembourg, allowed Brabant to play an eminent role in later centuries in the resistance against absolutist rulers.
Located in the northern part of Brabant Wallon is the city of Waterloo, a historically significant place that pertains to the Battle of Waterloo, which took place in 1815. The Battle of Waterloo is known as the final battle during which Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated, leading to his exile in Saint Helena. When visiting the city, one can see the Lion's Mound, an artificial hill with a statue of a lion on top, offering a view of the battlefield where the battle between Wellington and Napoleon took place on June 18, 1815. The mound is 43 meters high. Thus, it reportedly offers a panoramic view of the surrounding battlefields. An underground museum is located next to the mound, which provides information about the battle.
In 1830, Brabant became one of the nine Belgian provinces with Brussels as its capital. However, starting in 1970, the successive reforms of the Belgian state towards federalism made the situation of the province more complex. The province's territory then extended over three regions and depended on two communities. In 1992, the decision was made to divide the province into two entities, one Wallon and the other Flemish. The Province of Walloon Brabant was officially created on January 1, 1995, when its territory was merged with the district of Nivelles.
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