Wander through wastelands and vagabonds

Turnhout, Flanders, Belgium

Cycling route: 334733

based on 2 reviews

Provided by: De Kempen

63.1 km
03:42 h
1113 kcal
36 m


This route takes you past historic landscapes and buildings. The former vagrant colonies of Merksplas and Wortel - together more than 1000 hectares in size - are central. Around 1823, the first professional beggars settled in the Free Colony of Wortel. Two years later they were forced to work in the Unfree Colony of Merksplas. Don't be fooled by the silence.

Natural beauty
Today the domains are a refuge for dozens of species of birds, bats and insects. Stately forest drives, open fields, fens, heathland and grasslands alternate. Both the landscapes and most of the buildings of the colonies are now protected. And the candidacy for the Unesco World Heritage List has already been submitted!

Urban heritage
You can also admire a lot of urban heritage on this route. The Gelmelslot (the former residence of the lords of Hoogstraten), the impressive St. Catherine's Church and the Begijnhof give Hoogstraten grandeur. In Turnhout you can visit the beautifully renovated Pleinbegijnhof - with Begijnhof Museum - and the Castle of the Dukes of Brabant. The route has many attractive picnic spots.

Bring history to life with an app
Before you leave, you can download the Colony app. This app brings the vagrants' story back to life through historical footage, testimonials, anecdotes and maps (available for free on Google Play and the App Store). In the course of 2017, a brand new visitor center with brasserie and bicycle rental will also open at Merksplas-Kolonie.

This is a signposted cycle route that you can recognize on location by the hexagonal signs. Would you like to know more about the background of this region before you explore this route yourself? Then take a look at the inspiration page about De Kempen.

Copyright photos: Mie De Backer
Visitor center Church Restaurant Chapel or cross Museum Beguinage Castle Tourist landmark Tourist info

Height Profile

De Kempen

Just across the border from North Brabant you will find the Antwerpse Kempen. Enjoy forests, heaths, beautiful old sights such as beguinages and abbeys and charming towns and villages such as Turnhout, Lier and Malle. You can also let yourself be pampered culinary with the most delicious regional dishes


# Description Distance
Veldekensweg, 2300, Turnhout, Flanders, Belgium 0.00 km
13 (Langstraat, 2330, Merksplas, Flanders, Belgium) 5.71 km
30 (2330, Merksplas, Flanders, Belgium) 11.47 km
Kolonie van Merksplas - Kapel - Gevangenismuseum (Kapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hemelvaart, 2330, Merksplas, Flanders, Belgium) 19.48 km
34 (Zandweg, 2310, Rijkevorsel, Flanders, Belgium) 21.18 km
29 (De Sluis, 2310, Rijkevorsel, Flanders, Belgium) 27.20 km


based on 0 reviews

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