Drohme Park at the Hippodrome de Boitsfort

Boitsfort was the scene of horse races for 120 years. In 1998, the horses ran their last race there. Since then, the buildings have fallen into disrepair. For years, the government of the Brussels Capital Region looked for investors for the renovation. Finally, it decided to restore the listed buildings itself. In 2012, the Brussels government chose the Drohme project to fill the hippodrome: a recreational and evolutionary park, focused on nature, sport, education and culture. This large space, accessible to everyone, is especially aimed at families. In addition to good food and drink, you can also play golf in the Drohme Golf Club.

The Hippodrome de Boitsfort is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest.

The valley of the 'drowned children'

This valley in Boitsfort consists of three successive ponds linked by the Karregat, a tributary of the Woluwe. It has a wide variety of environments, alternating between humid copses, open views and a reed bed. It is a particularly suitable place for amphibians and a favourite hunting ground for dragonflies. The humid valley has a varied vegetation and a rich aquatic vegetation. These are all excellent reasons for recognising the area as a nature reserve.

Neolithic site and tumuli in Boitsfort

The remains of a fortified camp from the Neolithic period (4000 BC) are still visible in Boitsfort, along the chemin des deux montagnes. The purpose of felling there is to keep the site intact: falling trees with large root balls could seriously disturb the soil profile. Herbaceous vegetation in combination with heather and low woody plants keep the site as intact as possible.

Valley of the Vuylbeek

The valley of the Vuylbeek in Watermael-Boitsfort is absolutely breathtaking. In the upper reaches, you can enjoy the cathedral-like appearance of the beech trees on the valley walls on both sides. Downstream you end up in a wider open valley, bathed in sunlight, with water features and marshland zones that exude a great sense of tranquillity.

Rouge-Cloître and its art centre

The site of the Red Monastery (Rouge – Cloître) dates back to the 14th century. The ponds that the monks artificially created and the present nature reserve guarantee an oasis of peace and high natural value. The Flemish primitive Hugo van der Goes stayed here. The adjoining forest reserve is special because of its spring flora and its thick, old oaks.

On this historic site, you will find the Rouge-Cloître Arts Centre, which hosts temporary artistic exhibitions.

The Rouge-Cloître is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest. 

Geographic Arboretum Tervuren

An extraordinary arboretum in an extraordinary forest. Situated in the municipality of Tervuren, the Geographic Arboretum sits like a crown on the head of the majestic Sonian Forest, on its north border. The collection is set in a beautiful landscape park, between imposing alleys and along a labyrinth of grassy open valleys. More than a tree collection, this is a collection of forests, or forest types, more precisely. Countless trees and shrubs from the North, the West and the East of North America, from Central and Mediterranean Europe, from the Middle and Far East of Asia are grouped here by region of origin in some hundred sections, covering a total of 120 ha.

The arboretum was founded in 1902 on a property of King Leopold II and is today the most attractive public domain of the patrimony bequeathed by the king to the Belgian nation in 1903. The original design of Professor Charles Bommer has been maintained through more than a century of extensions and rejuvenations.

The Arboretum Tervuren is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest.

Africamuseum in the Park van Tervuren

The Africamuseum, located in Park van Tervuren, lets you discover the continent’s very diverse nature and also surprises you with the cultural riches and creativity of the cities. It shows life as it is, lets you hear the oldest and newest traditions of language and music, and focuses on a lasting relationship between Africa and Europe from the hard colonial history our country shares with Central Africa.

Park van Tervuren is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest. 

 

Forest Museum Jan Van Ruusbroeck atGroenendaal

In the middle of the Sonian forest, in the historical farmstead of the former Groenendaal Priory, lies the Jan van Ruusbroec Forest Museum.

Groenendaal Priory is inextricably linked to the mystic Jan van Ruusbroec. In the 14th century, he retreated to this haven of peace. The old abbey church and the artificial ponds refer to the past, as does the Red Monastery. Groenendaal Castle was built in the late 18th century in classical style as a coach house and guesthouse of the priory. The square farmstead that now houses the Forest Museum dates from the same period.

In the forest museum you can learn everything about the fauna, flora and forest management in the Sonian Forest.

Groenendaal is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest.

The royal lodge and the racecourse of Groenendaal

The Groenendaal racecourse was built in 1887 under the impetus of Leopold II. Since then, horse racing has been at its height and lasted until the early 1990s. Because the original grandstands were destroyed in 1919, both the grandstands and the royal lodge were rebuilt around 1924. Almost all the buildings of the racecourse have been demolished, but the royal lodge is still there and regained its original allure after the restoration in 2016. The course of the former racecourse as well as the practice course are now managed as grassland and have a high ecological value.

Groenendaal is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest. 

Arboretum Groenendaal

At the end of the 19th century, Leopold II had this systematic arboretum laid out over an area of 13.5 hectares. In more than 400 sections, various exotic tree and shrub species were planted next to each other by species and genus in order to see how they grow in our climate conditions. Striking species are the giant sequoias, the biscuit trees, the maples and many others.

Groenendaal is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest

Domaine Régional Solvay, La Hulpe Castel and the Folon Foundation

Domaine Régional Solvay is designed in the English landscape style. Amidst the vast meadows and ponds, you will find La Hulpe Castle, a magnificent structure built in 1842.

Culture lovers will enjoy the farm of La Hulpe castle in the Domaine Régional Solvay where the Folon Foundation is located. Here you can admire more than 500 works by the celebrated artist Jean-Michel Folon: from watercolours, etchings and posters to sculptures.

Domaine Régional Solvay is one of the gateways to the Sonian Forest.

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