Gembloux-sur-Orneau Tourist Attractions
Situated between Brussels and Namur the small town of Gembloux (Flemish Gembloers), which dates back to a Roman settlement on the military road from Bavai to Cologne, received its town charter in the 12th C. The town walls, parts of which are still standing, were constructed in the same period. From the 17th to the 19th C. Gembloux was famous for its steelware but this was only small scale and was superseded by other metal-working industries. Together with several surrounding districts Gembloux forms the administrative district of Gembloux-sur-Orneau.Sigisbert of Gembloux (1030-1112) wrote a world chronicle of the years 381-1111 in the Benedictine abbey.During the Dutch Wars of Independence the Spanish commander Don Juan d'Austria defeated a Spanish army here in 1578.
The abbey was founded in the 10th C. by St Guibert but the buildings from this period were demolished between 1762 and 1779. The new building including restoration of the old cloisters began in 1779 according to plans by the architect Dewez on a rocky outcrop above the Orneau.The former abbot's palace with an Ionic portal with columns stands in the impressive courtyard.The former abbey church, a parish church from 1812, is built above a 12th C. Romanesque crypt. Since 1861 the monastery buildings have been occupied by the National Agricultural Institute.
The Maison du Bailli (Bailif's house) is known to date back to the 12th C. The present day building is 16th C. and is used as a town hall; it houses a small museum about the production of steelware.
Corroy-le-Château 6km/4mi southwest of Gembloux owes its name to the 13th C. castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in Belgium.This moated fortification with its massive gate building, drawbridge and seven massive round towers was commissioned by Philipp of Vianden and was part of a defensive ring around Brabant. The 18th C. conversions have not had a major effect on the overall appearance.A visit to the castle, which is still inhabited, passes through the 13th C. chapel, refurbished in the 19th C. The remaining rooms contain furniture and paintings from the 16-18th C.; one hall has a collection of old-fashioned clothing.
Château de Mielmont
Near Onoz, 8km/5mi south of Gembloux, the 12th C. Château de Mielmont towers over the Orneau on a steep cliff.
Ligny, 12km/7miles southwest, is the site of Napoleon I's last victory, where two days before the Battle of Waterloo he defeated a Prussian unit. The battlefields of Waterloo are visible from a viewing platform.
In Grand-Leez, 6km/4miles east of Gembloux, numerous Roman finds were made. The Moulin Defrenne from 1830 is still in use today but driven by electricity.The mill Defrenne was classified as a monument in 1962 and restored in 1990. Visitors can watch the miller grind the wheat on wheels made of natural stone.Grand-Leez is also home to Château de Petit-Leez, home to Dieleman Sculpture Gallery and the Exit 11 contemporary art gallery.