Visiting Ouren, Belgium, in the German-speaking Ostkantone: where the borders of three countries meet
More than three-quarters surrounded by Luxembourg and Germany...and a disappeared castle
In some ways Ouren, Belgium, is in a unique geographical location. More than three quarters surrounded by territory belonging to other countries, it is part of eastern Belgium's German-speaking community, in an area known as the Ostkantone , at its southern extremity.
A stone European memorial, set in a park, is notably situated in Ouren, commemorating the meeting of the borders of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Germany.
Another notable structure in Ouren is St.Peter's church (German: Peterskirche ), dating from 1741.
Ouren used to have a castle, the superstructure of which is no longer there, unfortunately for the visitor; only the foundations remain. The destruction of this castle was deemed to serve the interests of French king Louis XIV. In the Middle Ages, the valley of the Our River had seven castles: from Burg Reuland in the north, to Vianden in the south. Indeed, the Lords of Ouren were dependents of Vianden, in Luxembourg.
Battle of the Bulge
In the closing months of World War 2, eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg saw very heavy fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, as von Rundstedt's counter-offensive is known. The tranquil scences enjoyed by many visitors in the summer months belie the fact that Ouren, with its crossings over the Our River , was the scene of some stubborn resistance on the part of the US 112th Infantry Regiment, before being forced to withdraw temporarily. Military buffs will find the wider area to be of great interest.
From my visit to Ouren, what is really striking about this place is not just that the borders of three countries should meet here. A short distance to the south-west lies the village of Lieler in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Close by, to the east, over a footbridge, is Sevenig, in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate. But it is also remarkable that the borders of the three countries should meet here in such a way that Ouren itself is more than three-quarters surrounded by territory of other countries.
Also worth seeing:
Burg-Reuland, Belgium (distance: 10 kilometres), of which municipality Ouren is now a part, has an imposing castle and some noteworthy buildings.
Bastogne, Belgium (distance: 63 kilometres), with its imposing Battle of the Bulge monument, has many memories of World War 2, and attracts many American visitors. Bastogne is situated 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 split in 1839).
Clervaux, Grand Duchy Luxembourg (distance: 18 kilometres), with its castle, fine ecclesiastical architecture, and scenic location, attracts many visitors.
Dasburg, Germany (distance: 22 kilometres), in a picturesque setting on the Our River, has some castle ruins.
Pruem, Germany: (distance: 40 kilometres) possesses some outstanding ecclesiastical architecture in a scenic location.
How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport (distance: 186 kilometres), where car hire is available. The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel (distance from Ouren to Luxembourg: 72 kilometres). For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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