Warm memories are usually coloured by the glow of the patina of time. A rural village of bygone days always looks more beautiful, more peaceful and more fairy-like. Zegelsem, as it seems, has never changed and looks as enchanting now as in the past, including the cobbles. No time for reality. Flemish author Herman Teirlinck, founder of the Antwerp Drama School, where many talented Flemish actors learned the ropes, suffered ill health when he was young. And so he would spend many days in the countryside,at his grandparents’ house in Zegelsem. It was there that he found the inspiration for his most famous novel ‘Maria Speermalie’.
When you enter Zegelsem you will find the scenery of Teirlinck’s youth. It has remained unchanged since the end of the 19th century. “In Zegelsem I have learned to live on the simple fruits of the earth, because in Zegelsem everything is earth and water and air and green and space,” he once wrote in his notebook. Today he would say exactly the same.
St. Ursmar’s Church. You will find this classical cruciform church in the village centre of Zegelsem. The late Gothic tower dates back to the 13th century. And the beautiful limes next to the church have also stood there for quite some time.
The presbytery dates back to 1622, but has been rebuilt many times in the course of history. One stone in the house has the inscription ‘1714’, referring to the year of the biggest renovation.
Singulfi Farm. This closed-type farm, located 29 Leierwaarde, was fully renovated by FransCasteele, the father of Isabelle, who lives at the farm with her husband Alain Dedobbeleer. The history of this farm goes back the years 800. It was the Frankish farm of Singulfus that became the centre of a settlement that gradually developed into the village of Zegelsem.
The Haaghoek is a classified cobbled street, featuring in the Tour of Flanders. Thanks to the Omer Wattez foundation, these unique cobbles became listed in 1995.
Leberg. Yet another famous hill in the Tour of Flanders. Before climbing the Berendries, the riders have to deal with this leg killer first. A small asphalt road bridges a 39 metre difference in height. Along the Ledeberg you will also find trout ponds, where anglers from all over Flanders come to cast a line.
Burreken is a 220ha protected nature reserve. Countless brooklets joyfully meander through the area, cutting deeply into the landscape. The typical vegetation in this heavily undulating woodland contains black alder, ash and hazel. The best time of the year to visit the reserve is in spring, when Burreken looks spectacularly beautiful. The white of the wood anemone and the blue of the wild hyacinth combine magnificently in a colourful flower carpet. The reserve is open to the public and has signposted footpaths.
Mariakluizen Monastery. This ecumenical hermitage was founded on 8 December 1980 by two monks who came to pray and work there according to the rule of Saint Benedict. Ecumenical services are held, as well as art exhibitions. The monks lead a secluded life. Small wooden houses are available for people who want to withdraw from daily pressure or feel the need to reflect.