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Limburg, one of Belgium's ten provinces, is found in the northeastern part of the country. The river of Muese forms an eastern border between the province and the Netherlands, separating the Belgian Limburg from the Dutch Limburg. To the south, the province of Limburg shares a border with the French-speaking province of Liège, while to the west are located the Flemish provinces of Flemish Brabant and Antwerp, with the Dutch province of North Brabant to the north.[14] Historically, the area was inhabited by various cultures, from ancient Romans and Franks to later being under French and Dutch rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively.[2] In today's time, southern parts of the area consist of soils used for farming and fruit-growing. Southwestern Limburg, including the detached exclave of Voeren, is hilly. The land to the north of the Demer River and the Albert Canal consists of sandy soils, heathlands, and forests.[14] In the east-central part of the Limburg province is National Park Hoge Kempen, stretching across an area of 12000 hectares, offering a variety of outdoor activities.[4] The capital city of Limburg province is Hasselt, found in the central part of the region, attracting a considerable number of tourists due to its culture and heritage.[10]

What Limburg is known for

The capital and largest city of Limburg is Hasselt, found in the central part of the province. Hasselt is nicknamed the "city of taste," as it is renowned for its locally produced Hasselt jenever (gin), the Hasselt Jenever Festivities, Limburgish pie, and the Hasselt speculaas.[9] Hasselt is also home to several historical and cultural attractions. The Virga Jesse Basilica is one such destination, featuring the 14th-century Virga Jesse statue. Visitors can experience the Virga Jesse procession every seven years and participate in folklore and artistic events. The Virga Jesse festivities have been listed as intangible heritage since 2009. During the festivities, the statue is carried by locals through the streets of the capital city. The city's ancient heart is represented by St. Quentin Cathedral, a Gothic church that became a bishop's church in 1967. The Hasselt beguinage site, with its thirteen beguinage dwellings, former beguinage church, gatehouse, and garden, is a protected monument with considerable heritage value. Other notable attractions include the Old Cemetery, the Minderbroederskerk, and the recently restored Herkenrode Abbey Site.[10]

However, Hasselt isn't the only historic town in the province. Tongeren is the oldest city in Belgium, offering a variety of experiences to its visitors. The Gallo-Roman Museum showcases over 2,000 authentic objects from prehistoric times to the end of the Roman period, with workshops and quests for children during school holidays. The Teseum Museum houses a religious art collection from the Low Countries and an archaeological site with a multimedia trail taking visitors through local history. Additionally, the city hosts the largest antique and flea market in the Benelux every Sunday morning, with over 350 exhibitors and around 40 antique shops.[11] The city of Tongeren might be also recognized thanks to Robert Cailliau, who was born there. Robert Cailliau is a Belgian computer scientist who played a significant role in the development of the World Wide Web. He proposed the first hypertext system for CERN in 1987 and worked with Tim Berners-Lee on web development. Additionally, Cailliau was instrumental in transferring the development of the web from CERN to the global Web consortium in 1995.[15]

Regarding outdoor activities, Limburg province offers cycling, as the region has a considerable cycle route network. "Cycling through water" in Bokrijk allows cyclists to ride on a dry path that takes them through a pond. In Limburg province, it's also possible to "cycle through the trees" in Bosland, where cyclists can cycle through the tree crowns at a height of 10 meters above the ground. 'Cycling through the Heathland' in the Hoge Kempen National Park features a wooden bicycle bridge that offers a panoramic view of Belgium's only national park.[12] Additionally, the province of Limburg is known as Flanders' greenest province. The Voer region is among its touristic destinations, with 125 km of walking trails through historical villages and panoramic landscapes. Haspengouw is another natural area featuring orchards, valley areas, fields, and hills. Other hiking spots include De Wijers, RivierPark Maasvallei, Duinengordel, and Kempen~Broek, each offering diverse landscapes and habitats for rare animal species. Moreover, The Hoge Kempen National Park boasting 80 hiking loops and more than 220 km of trails, is the only national park in Flanders.[13]


The river Demer and the Albert Canal run from east to west, crossing the center of Belgian Limburg. The Demer's drainage basin covers most of the central and southern parts of the province, except for the southeastern corner, where the Jeker River runs past Tongeren and flows into the Maas River at Maastricht. The province's western border is formed by the bank of the west of the Maas, which originates in France and includes most of the northern part of Belgian Limburg. The southern part of the province belongs to the northern part of the Hesbaye region, which is known for its fertile soils, farming, and fruit-growing, and has a higher population density. Limburg's southeastern part is of largely hilly, including the detached Voeren exclave. North of the Demer River and the Albert Canal is part of the Campine region, consisting of sandy soils, heathlands, and forests. That area was scarcely populated until the 19th century when coal mining began, attracting immigrants from other regions, including Mediterranean countries.[1]

In the central-eastern part of the Limburg province is found the Hoge Kempen National Park, stretching across 12000 hectares of land. The area consists of pine forests alternating with purple flowering heathlands, extensive ponds testifying to gravel and sand extraction, and high peaks. Due to the variety of landscapes within the national park's borders, a considerable number of reportedly rare species can be found in the local natural setting.[4] Apart from its heritage, Hoge Kempen National Park can offer several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, or horseback riding. The part features 440 km of hiking trails, with each hiking loop identified by a colored symbol visible on wooden posts along the route.[5] Another distinct nature area in Limburg is Bosland, which is the largest adventure forest in Flanders. Its natural core is found within the municipalities of Hechtel-Eksel, Pelt, and the cities of Lommel and Peer—located in the center of North Limburg.[6] The nature reserve comprises sand plains, open dunes, streams, valleys, and forests. The area shaped by the sea thousands of years ago is now home to several reportedly rare plant and animal species. Despite the artificial afforestation due to mining, some heath relics remain intact and are maintained for their importance to many species and the typical Flemish landscape.[7]

Regarding the average temperatures in Hasselt, Limburg's capital, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 24°C. January is the coldest month, as temperatures typically rest around 6°C on average. April tends to be the driest month in Limburg because it generally receives 52 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, as it receives an average of about 90 mm.[8]


The first wave of people who brought farming and pottery technology from the Middle East to northern Europe was the Linear Pottery culture (LBK), which originated in central Europe and died out in about 4000 BC. The area became permanently agricultural only in the Bronze Age with the Urnfield culture around 1200 BC, followed by the possibly related Halstatt and La Tène material cultures, which are generally associated with Celts. During those years, the population increased in the region, and it was also during that period that Indo-European languages are thought to have arrived in the area. Under Roman imperial rule, the area became home to the Tungri.[1]

In the third century, the Franks migrated to the thinly populated Roman Empire area now known as Limburg. During the Merovingian period, Pippin of Landen became the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia as an ancestor of the Carolingian rulers. After the division of Charlemagne's Empire in 843, most of modern-day Limburg became part of the prince-bishopric of Liège and was not related to the Duchy of Limburg. From 1792 to 1815, the French occupied the region, and from 1815 to 1830, a Dutch province of Limburg was formed, consisting of the provinces of Belgian Limburg and Dutch Limburg. During the Belgian Revolution of Independence in 1830, Limburg became part of Belgium. Still, the part of Limburg east of the River Meuse had to be returned to the Netherlands after the Treaty of London in 1839. In exchange, the Netherlands allowed Belgium the right of transit by rail or canal over Dutch territory to the German Ruhr.[2]

During both the First and the Second World Wars, Belgian Limburg, along with other parts of eastern Belgium, was under German occupation. In World War II, Limburg and the rest of Belgium were placed under military administration, unlike the Netherlands and Norway, which had non-military puppet governments. Belgian Limburg was to become part of the Greater Germanic Reich. In 1962, Belgian Limburg officially became part of the Flemish region. However, the status of the small enclave of Voeren, surrounded by French-speaking parts of Belgium with a significant population of French speakers, was a source of disagreements. In 1967, the Catholic Church established a separate diocese of Hasselt, Belgium's Limburg capital, distinct from the diocese of Liège.[3]

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