The place beyond the beeches: Groenendaal in the Sonian Forest

Drive 10 minutes out of Brussels and you’re in a wondrous place, full of fiery colours, soft sounds and impressionist paintings. That’s what all Monday mornings should look like 🙂

The Sonian Forest is a relatively recent forest, composed of mainly beech trees (67%), oaks and other broadleaf trees typical of the region. The beeches, many of which are over 100 years old, give the forest the majestic, cathedral-like feel for which the forest is well-known, even beyond Belgium.

Yet it is only in autumn that I get to really enjoy the Sonian Forest. The rest of the year, having studied the forest as part of my masters, I mostly spot its plights and the shortcomings in its management, spread across three regions. But in autumn I forget what I know of the forest, enraptured by its eerie atmosphere.

This time I went to Groenendaal, a former monastic church, one of the few archeological sites still remaining in the Sonian Forest. The site itself is less impressive than its better preserved neighbour Rouge-Cloître. But the walks around the ponds and into the deeper forests are full of magic as the mist slowly lifts.

What is your favourite part of the Sonian Forest?

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