Between the Lower Nete and Mechelen-Noord is Walem, a hamlet whose fort played a prominent role in the history of the defence line built around Antwerp at the end of the nineteenth century. Walem Fort probably bears more visible traces of the unequal battle between the German and Belgian armies in September 1914 than any of the other forts.
Walem has retained its lovely village feel. It also boasts a full-scale children’s farm which is home to a whole host of different animals, including sheep, donkeys, rabbits, squirrels and various sorts of birds. You can walk round it and perhaps combine it with a stroll in the surrounding area.
DON’T MISS – WALEM
1. Fort Walem
The first thing you notice when visiting Walem is the area around Walem Fort. During the First World War the fort was subjected to heavy shelling by the Germans. Almost no other fort bears such visible traces of the unequal battle between the German and Belgian armies in September 1914. Nowadays it is an oasis of peace and an important haven for numerous species of rare animals. As various species of hibernating bats have taken up residence here, the fort is protected by European law.
2. Roosendael estate
The monumental gatehouse and coach house remind us that Roosendael was once a thirteenth-century abbey of Cistercian nuns, though these days it is a place for relaxation, culture and recreation. You can even spend the night here. Roosendael is also known for its wonderful wildlife area next to the River Nete. Look out for rare birds and plants on your walk or cycle ride.
3. Water tower
Don’t think the inhabitants of Walem have gone off their heads when they talk about a UFO! There is indeed something extraterrestrial about this water tower with a dish like a toadstool. There is a second water tower in Mechelen-Zuid, which at143 metres high makes it the second largest in the world. Walem tower serves as a water tower with that of Mechelen-Zuid, but also as a mast for various radio stations and as a mobile phone mast.