10 Mesmerizing Facts About The Hallerbos

Have you ever seen pictures of an amazing forest that features a blue carpet?

Then you surely saw images of the Hallerbos, one of the most breathtaking attractions in Belgium.

IN this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the Hallerbos, one of those feats of nature that make you stand in awe for its mesmerizing beauty.

1. It’s located in a town near Belgium’s capital

The Hallerbos translates to “Halle Forest” which is a reference to the town in which most of this magical feat of nature is located.

Halle is a town with nearly 40,000 inhabitants in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. It’s situated just southwest of the capital of Belgium, Brussels.

The forest itself is located in the southeastern part of the city and even extends partially in Walloon Brabant, which is part of the French-speaking region of Belgium.

Halle Belgium
Halle in Belgium / Lise Cox / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

2. It used to be part of an ancient forest featuring old-growth trees

The forest has been important since Roman times. The woods in this region were referred to as the “Silva Carbonaria,” or the “Charcoal Woods,” a reference to the dark and gloomy nature of this dense forest.

This old-growth first mainly consisted of beech and oak and formed the natural border between the Roman Empire in the south and the region where numerous Germanic tribes lived in the north.

This is also how the language barrier was eventually formed, a boundary that runs right through Belgium. The northern part is now the Dutch-speaking Flanders while the southern part is the French-speaking Wallonia.

Sonian Forest Brussels
The nearby Sonian Forest / Donar Reiskoffer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

3. The forest floor turns blue because of a particular flower

The main reason why the Hallerbos attracts tourists all around the world isn’t that it was once the natural border of the Roman Empire, but because it produces an amazing blue carpet.

This carpet is formed by the Hyacinthoides non-scripta flower, in English known as the “common bluebell” or simply “bluebell.” Seeing this blue wonder of nature is usually an indication that the forest has ancient roots and dates back to at least before the 17th century.

Even though the forest in Belgium is one of the most famous examples of such a forest in mainland Europe, these are quite common in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Hallerbos facts
The bluebell carpet of the forest / Wiki Commons

4. It doesn’t look like this most of the year

We don’t want you to be disappointed when you plan to visit the Hallerbos, so it’s better to be clear that it doesn’t feature an amazing blue carpet throughout the year.

One of the most remarkable facts about the Hallerbos is that it only looks like this for a couple of weeks every spring. By the time that the summer has started, the blooming flowers already disappeared, resulting in the Hallerbos looking like most other forests in the world.

This also means that it can get quite crowded during this magical couple of weeks during the spring. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict when this will happen as well as it mostly depends on the weather conditions at that particular time.

Hallerbos in December
The forest in December / Donar Reiskoffer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

5. Accessing the Hallerbos is relatively easy if you stay in Brussels

The Hallerbos is a popular tourist attraction and offers plenty of enjoyable activities. There are multiple hiking routes inside the forest and even a forest museum where you can learn about its extended history.

If you want to visit the Hallerbos, you can travel from any railway station in Brussels (North, Central, or South) to Halle. At the Halle railway station, you can take a bus to the entrance of the forest.

The relatively easy way to get to the forest makes this one of the best things to do in case you want to relax in a natural environment and away from the busy city of Brussels!

Hallerbos hiking
Hiking path in the forest / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about the Hallerbos

6. Even though the Hallerbos is without a doubt the most famous tourist attraction in the town of Halle, the town itself features some interesting landmarks to visit as well.

The town has always been an important town on the border between the County of Hainaut and the Duchy of Brabant. The immense Gothic Basilica of Saint Martin was constructed starting in the 15th century and the magnificent town hall was built during the Renaissance.

7. The forest was once part of a much larger interconnected series of forests of which only the Hallerbos and the Sonian Woods have survived into modern times in the region.

The cutting of this old-growth forest that the Romans referred to as the charcoal wood started during Roman times and continued throughout the centuries.

Today, the Hallerbos only covers an area of 552 hectares (1,360 acres) while the nearby Sonian Forest is much larger and covers an area of 4,421 hectares (10,920 acres). The Sonian Forest is therefore sometimes referred to as the “Green Lung of Brussels.”

Hallerbos Halle Belgium

8. The forest was once owned by the rulers of the region, starting with the Merovingians and onwards to the Counts of Burgundy and the Habsburg rulers in the Low countries.

One of the most remarkable facts about the Hallerbos is that the connection with the nearby Sonian Forest was still present in the year 1777. This connection had a length of 1.5 kilometers (0.93) but was lost during a heavy deforestation period in the 19th century.

9. During World War I most of the old-growth forest was cut by German forces who occupied the region. This resulted in most of the forest ending up completely ruined during this devastating event in human history.

The forest was nationalized in the year 1929 to protect this magical place and a massive replanting project was conducted between 1930 and 1950. This means that the Hallerbos in its current state is a relatively young forest.

10. The blooming of the bluebells only lasts for 7 to 10 days and the best time to visit is right at the start. The main reason is that most of the sunlight can reach the flowers through the forest canopy during the first couple of days.

As the leaves on the trees grow, less sunlight can reach the flowers, slightly reduces the magic.

Hallerbos fun facts
The sun shining through the blooming forest / Wiki Commons