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Visiting Buetgenbach, Belgium: impressions of its gigantic church bell-tower

Updated on August 29, 2012
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Buetgenbach church
Buetgenbach church | Source
Buetgenbach's lake
Buetgenbach's lake | Source
Map location of Buetgenbach
Map location of Buetgenbach | Source

Fine church architecture in the borderland

If you didn't know where you were and happened upon Buetgenbach's Sankt Stephanus-Kirche, with its monumental tower, you might imagine that you were in the middle of Germany, looking at a Medieval cathedral.

Some history

In fact, Buetgenbach and the German-speaking Ostkantone area in eastern Belgium did use to be belong to Germany until 1918. The interior of the church building has some Medieval and 16th century features; the original church had been founded in the 12th century.

The current building dates from 1931, and was designed by architect Henry Cunibert, of Malmédy. While its design exudes a 'Medieval' look, it is widely known that the neo-Romanesque style was popular for public and church buildings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The church building is also noted for anther, less tall, octagonal tower.

Architect Cunibert was retained for work on many churches situated in the part of Germany annexed by Belgium at the end of World War One. His work on the Sankt Stephanus-Kirche at Buetgenbach was the largest undertaking that he accomplished.

A linguistic note

There are three variants to the spelling of this locality: i) Buetgenbach ; ii) Bütgenbach ; and iii) Butgenbach . Variants i) and ii) are interchangeable, having more to do with typeface convenience than any 'real' spelling difference. Variant iii) is the French spelling. The vacation visitor might ask: Does it matter? The answer: to local people it does.

A further, geographical note

Buetgenbach is administratively in an interesting situation. Belonging to Belgium's Walloon region, often described as in the south of Belgium and French-speaking, Buetgenbach actually forms part of what are variously described as the Ostkantone and the German-speaking Community (die Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft ), which has its own government and capital based at Eupen. In addition, it is situated in Liège province and Verviers arrondissement , both of which entities are mainly French-speaking.

Also worth seeing

In Buetgenbach itself, another well-known feature is its artificial lake and reservoir, complete with dam, which also attracts many summer visitors.

Haus Kirch , in Buetgenbach , was used as a local military headquarters by Allied military personnel in World War Two at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. It was here that General Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed.

Buetgenbach Castle (die Buetgenbacher Burg ), of which ruins remain, was built in 1230. It is recorded that, in a dispute between the Lords of Limburg and the Bishop of Liège, the latter's forces burned a tower of the castle in 1237. In the 15th century, the castle came into the possession of the Counts of Vianden (in Luxembourg). On two occasions, French troops loyal to King Louis XIV in the 17th century, and later to Revolutionary governments, caused further destruction to the castle.

Burg-Reuland, Belgium (distance: 35 kilometres), has an imposing castle and some noteworthy buildings.

Ouren , Belgium (distance: 45 kilometres); in this picturesque village in the Our Valley, a small park marks the location where three countries' borders meet: Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.

Bastogne, Belgium (distance: 82 kilometres), with its imposing Battle of the Bulge monument, has many memories of World War 2, and attracts many American visitors. Bastogne is located in Belgian Luxembourg province (yes, Belgium has a province called Luxembourg, too! and this province was formerly united with the Grand Duchy of the same name; they officially separated in 1839).

Troisvierges, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (distance: 43 kilometres) has St. André parish church with an interesting domed spire, and an ornate interior; the main body of the building dates from the 17th century, while the tower was built in 1924. Historical note: World War One on the Western Front started here.

Cinqfontaines Jewish deportation memorial, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (distance: 47 kilometers); this sombre monument was built in 1969, commemorating hundreds of Jews deported by rail during World War Two from near this location.

Clervaux, Grand Duchy Luxembourg (distance: 52 kilometres), with its castle, fine ecclesiastical architecture, and scenic location, it attracts many visitors.

Pruem, Germany : (distance: 42 kilometres) possesses some outstanding ecclesiastical architecture in a scenic location.

Dasburg , Germany (distance: 58 kilometres); in a picturesque setting on the Our River, has some castle ruins.


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 6 years ago

      freecampingaussie: Yes, Belgium is a country people travel through; it is also hugely worthwhile travelling to. Thank-you for your comment.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 6 years ago from Southern Spain

      We drove thru Belgium & I spent a day in Brughes ? loved it ! Found you while hub hopping!!