It all looks peace and quiet around this rural village full of charming panoramas. Although the history of Opbrakel features burly Romans and a church that was already mentioned in two official acts at the end of the 12th century.
In the first century of our era a Roman road (Bavai-Ghent) passed through Opbrakel and in the Middle Ages Opbrakel became a manor owned by the Van Brakel family. The Brunhildeweg, which ran through the manor, connected two rival counties, Hainaut and Flanders, and much later a railway – now a footpath – between Brakel and Ronse used to run through the village. Numerous springs and headwaters of the river Zwalm, the Molenbeek brook, along which once stood the impressive water castle of the Lords of Brakel, are indicators of a vivid water life.
The St. Martin’s Church stands at a height of 56 metres and with its early Gothic west tower rises above the breathtaking countryside.
St.Martin’s Church. The church does not only stand at an impressive height, it also towers above the village, sturdy and robust. The octagonal tower dates back to the 13th century, while the rest of the church was built in the 18th century in classical style. Do enter the church to admire the decorated Rococco stuccowork with rocaille and shell design in the ceiling. Or to enjoy the heavenly sounds of the original Van Petegem organ, built in 1789.
Verrebeek Mill. This windmill was built in 1789 by Jean-Baptiste Van Damme and kept turning until 1939. In 1996 it was entirely rebuilt, preserving the original concept. Its sails have a flight of 24.4 metres. The mill can be visited every last Sunday of the month.
The old presbytery is located near the Dorenbos brook in Tamelbroekstraat. Back in 1653 a small walled farm had a dovecote under its roof because the then parish priest was very fond of pigeons. During the French period in the late 18th century the presbytery was confiscated and became civil property. The house is one of the oldest in the region.
Brakelbos. The wood spreads over an area of 52ha and has a rich past. Near the wooded hilltops of the Pottelberg and the Modderoddeflint objects were found of more than 10,000 years old. Brakelbos is open to the public. But if you fancy a nice walk, bear in mind you will have quite a bit of climbing work to do, with slopes varying between 65 and 130 metres. So put on strong shoes. The numerous springs bubbling up in the wood can make the soil swampy and slippery.
Brakelbos lies on a hill that dates back to the times when the Flemish Ardennes were located near the sea. Only 6 million years ago.
The wood is at its best in spring, when wild hyacinths bloom massively, forming a splendid, sweet-smelling blue flower carpet.
Remarkable farms. The region still counts a number of historic farms that once belonged to noblemen and rich citizens from Ghent: TerBruggen, TeFransbeke, Ten Bossche and TeWolfskerke.
Mullens Castle. The Mulle family (from Ghent) became owner of the farm and rebuilt it impressively. Senator Mulle had a luxurious cottage erected nearby, nicknamed ‘Chateau Mulle’ or ‘Mullens Castle’. The building has been thoroughly restored.