The local constable, the town hall and the post office are long gone in Elst. But the pancakes, the famous ‘geutelingen’, are there to stay for ever. Until the 1930s it was customary in the Flemish Ardennes to bake these ‘geutelingen’ around Purification, when people would carry a bucket of doughto the nearest oven. The cakes were baked and eaten on the spot, accompanied by a bottle of delicious (Balegem) gin.
Unfortunately, when home –based industry disappeared, the pancakes disappeared with it. Until the 1970s, when local youth organizations revived the habit of baking ‘geutelingen’. Ten years later the Geutelingen Committee was established, which has staged the Geutelingen festivities ever since, on the first Sunday of 9 February, during Apollonia fair.
Saint Apollonia is the patron saint of toothache. People would come from far and near to invoke her, hoping to be protected against toothache. Around 9 February, the feast day of St. Apollonia, geutelingen are baked because nowadays it is still believed that one bite of the pancake will banish toothache. According to legend, in Alexandria back in 249, Apollonia was seized and tortured, having all her teeth violently knocked out when she refused to renounce her faith. The torture of Apollonia is depicted in a 17th century painting in the church of Elst. This church was built between 1775 and 1778in classical style.
The Perlinck Mill is the oldest watermill in Flanders. The mill was already mentioned in 868 as part of the abbey of Lobbes and remained in operation until 1974. The mill also features in Herman Teirlinck’sfamous novel ‘Maria Speermalie’. Nowadays the mill is part of a farm. The mill is a protected historic building, in good shape but not open to the public.
The Ooievaar Mill used to be a mill, but today only the body is left. It was built in 1840 by Lodewijk De Smet from Zegelsem. In 1927 fire severely damaged the mill and since then grinding can only be done using a motor. The mill was named after an old pub that stood nearby (ooievaar=’stork’).
St. Apollonia’s Chapel, located at the crossroads of Gentsestraat and Lepelstraat, shows up on a map that belonged to Earl de Ferrarris, late 18th century.
The Dompels is the wooded and picturesque valley of a brook called the Dorrebeek.
Watch tower. There are quite a few corners in Brakel that offer a splendid panoramic view, but nothing compares to the watch tower along the Twaalfbunderstraat. Climb the 162 stairs and you will find yourself 33 metres above the ground , 133 metres above sea level. And if you lose your sense of direction on your way up, trust the four viewpoint indicators.