The province of Limburg is located in the east of Flanders and borders with The Netherlands and the Belgian provinces of Liège, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp. It spans over an area of 2,427 km2 (937 sq mi), with a population of 874,048 inhabitants.
The eastern border of the province corresponds to the western bank of the river Maas / Meuse, which originates in France. The centre of the province is crossed east to west by the river Demer and the Albert Canal. The south of the province is the northern part of the Haspengouw / Hesbaye region. This region is known for it’s fertile soils and fruit-growing. North of the river Demer and Albart Canal is part of the Campine (Kempen) region, with sandy soils, heath lands and forests. Limburg is flander’s greenest region with lots of nature reserves. It’s also home of the National Park Hoge Kempen.
Before Roman Times, the region was home to the Gallic–Germanic tribe “The Eburones”, who defeated Julius Caesar under the leadership of Ambiorix. During Roman Times, the city of Tongeren developed as Belgian’s oldest town.
In late Roman times, around the 3rd century, the Franks started moving in from the north. The area called “Kempen” became virtually empty and abandoned due to plundering. The more southern region called “Haspengouw” remained more heavily Romanized untill it became a core land for the Frankish empires. Early Christianity was first established in the more Romanized area’s in the south-east around Tongeren. Missionaries were send out to convert the Franks. The Archbishops became responsible for a very large territory .
During medieval times the County of Loon was formed, which correspondents closely to the current province of Belgian Limburg. As part of the County of Loon, the area became both politically and spiritually subject to the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. When the bishopric was annexed by Revolutionary France in 1795, the county of Loon was also disbanded and an adjusted version of the territory became part of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure, along with Dutch Limburg to the east of the Maas.
After Napoleon’s defeat, a united Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed and the former French département of Meuse-Inférieure was renamed into the Province of Limburg.
After the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the province of Limburg was at first almost entirely under Belgian rule but the status of both Limburg and Luxembourg became unclear. The treaty of London in 1839 decided that Limburg would split into a so-called Dutch Limburg and Belgian Limburg.
Belgian Limburg became officially Flemish (Dutch speaking) in 1962, when Belgium got divided into language area’s.
Limburg overview map
Cities and towns to visit in Limburg
Hasselt is the capital of Limburg. It’s a trendy city, famous for it’s Jenever and an excellent place to go shopping.
Genk is a former coal mining town witch a rich mix of culture and nationalities. It’s also one of the gateways to National Park Hoge Kempen.
Sint-Truiden is a lovely old city founded in the 7th century ad. The towns Belfry and Béguinage are Unesco World Heritage.
Maasmechelen is one of the gates to National Park Hoge Kempen and also has a shopping outlet center
Beringen has a large coal mining history. Visit the former mine site, or go walking in the surrounding nature.
Riemst is located on the dutch border and well known for it’s underground limestone quarries
Nature in Limburg
The Hoge Kempen national park is located east of Limburg and is the perfect location for long walks and bicycle tours
Nature reserve “De Teut” is a large and beautiful Heatland in Zonhoven.
Nature reserve “De Wijers” is also known as the land of 1001 ponds. In reality there are even more ponds in this area.