Kraainem is a municipality on the outskirts of the Brussels Capital Region, administratively belonging to Flemish Brabant. It began as a rural village, but the expansion of Brussels has led to a fast-paced urbanization of Kraainem throughout the 20th century, and the municipality has become a popular residence for Eurocrats and expats alike.
Early historyLittle is known about the early history of Kraainem, aside from a few lithic artifacts found during agricultural activities. During the urbanization of Stokkel and South Kraainem, a large concentration of artifacts was discovered in 1928 near the border with St.-Pieters-Woluwe. These finds are dated to the meso and neolithicum.
Remains of Roman settlements were uncovered at the end of the 18th century, and a Roman villa once stood at the location of the current town hall. It was known as Villa Crainham, and gave Kraainem its name. None of the classical remains were preserved, unfortunately. It is known that Villa Crainham remained until the 11th century, from 1003 also a church is recorded in charters: crainham villa cum ecclesia. The Keulsebaan crosses through Kraainem, connecting Roman Brussels to Cologne, parts of which remain today.
Most of Kraainems current territory remained uninhabited throughout the first millenium. The northern urbanized area of Kraainem, High Kraainem, evolved from a Frankish court centered around what is now known as the Jourdain Castle. It was little more than a fortification surrounded by a few dwellings in the first half of the 9th century. A map from 1771 shows the historic division of Kraainem between a high and low area: to the west a church built upon earlier fortifications, and to the east numerous farm houses and a few smaller dwellings. It is unknown how the fortifications might have looked, but remains of a double octagonal moat can be traced to the west of the church and remained prominent until 1836. The development of High Kraainem remained limited to this core until well into the 19th century, with a survey in 1830 counting only 15 houses.
The noth-west of Kraainem hosts a second urbanization core, Low Kraainem. It was more densely populated than High Kraainem, but of less significance because it lacked High Kraainems church and defensive fortifications. Low Kraainem owed its importance to the confluence of the Maalbeek in the Woluwe. Water mills were already constructed in 1397 to harness the power of the water for agricultural purposes, and a residential core grew around these mills. Around 1427 the St. Anthony chapel was built, taking advantage of merchants crossing through the area over the Keulsebaan. Laag Kraainem flourished economically in the 14th and 15th century, but the St. Anthony chapel had disappeared again by 1850. The Jozef Van Hovestraat and Jef. Thumasstraat are the oldest remaining streets of Low Kraainem.
Stokkel is Kraainem's third core of habitation, and evolved from a small settlement in the 12th century as part of the Woluwe abbey. The abbey ensured the soil was made fertile, thus allowing agriculture and the development of a settlement there. The area south of Stokkel, now a residential neighborhood, remained forested until the 19th century and a source of income from hunting.
In the 19th centuryAt the end of the 19th century, Stokkel gained a tram connection to Brussels, which still exists today as tram 92. The improved accessibility started rapid urbanization of Stokkel, whereas northern Kraainem retained its rural characteristics. Until the end of the Second World War, only 2 unpaved roads connected Low and High Kraainem to Stokkel, and they were only usable a few months a year.
Wheras Stokkel urbanized, northern Kraainem developed slowly and became industrialized in the early 19th century. Paper mills had existed in Kraainem since the Middle Ages, and gained importance from the Belgian independence in 1830 to supply the new capital city of Brussels with newspapers. By 1892, it had evolved into a large industrial complex with a hundred craftsmen. A grain mill and brewery were also part of the complex. Today, Kraainem still bears the fruits of this history, and is considered one of the richest municipalities of Belgium.
From 1860 onwards, the monumental construction projects in Brussels drove the bourgeoisie out of the capital city, and many found refuge around Stokkel, which gave it a development boost and much of its wealth.
Modern KraainemImprovements to the road network after the First World War led to a gradual decline of Kraainem's industrial importance, and by 1932 all mills had been closed and demolished. Very little of that industrial heritage remains today, as the industrial sites were reclaimed as residential areas after the Second World War when the connections between north Kraainem and Stokkel were paved, and subsequently also northern Kraainem experienced accelerated urbanization. Kraainem's population increased from 1739 in 1920 to 3330 inhabitants in 1947.
From 1927 onwards, the area south of Stokkel became the focus of further residential development. Still a part of the Sonian Forest until then, roads were constructed in the southern half of Kraainem, and soon afterwards the first villas were built. The Second World War put a temporary stop to the development of South Kraainem, but from the 1950s the deforestation accelerated and had completely urbanized the area by 1967. Only a small fraction of the Sonian Forest was preserved in the southern most point of Kraainem. It permanently shifted the municipality from an agricultural, forestry and trade to a residential focus. Kraainem is almost completely urbanized, although a few meadows remain in the northern half of Kraainem.
In the second half of the 20th century, Kraainem transformed from a Flemish town into an international community. Migration of Wallonian citizens settling in Kraainem gave it an increasingly mixed urban population, to which Eurocrats were added after establishment of the European institutions in nearby Brussels.
OrientationSituated to the east of Brussels and to the north of Tervuren, Kraainems territory has the shape of an hourglass, with at its narrowest point a width of only 160 m. It is scarred by numerous highways, cutting into Kraainem from the west and north side. The north of Kraainem is a mostly flat area in the valley of the Maalbeek river, towards the centre and south its topography becomes hilly.
Kraainem has 5 districts, each with a distinct personality.
The presence of European Institutions in Brussels led to a second wave of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s, Kraainem's quiet residential areas and easy accessibility being appreciated by European Union and NATO officials. The large influx of immigrants has replaced most of the original Flemish population, and caused Kraainem to become more francophone from 1960 onwards, and fully multilingual since the 1990s as a result of the numerous expats residing in Kraainem. Only a small fraction of the population still speaks Flemish, French is the de facto lingua franca. Many residents, especially the younger generation, have a fair understanding of English, too.
Language is still a sensitive topic of discussion in Kraainem, the older generation in particular does not embrace multiculturality and blames francophone and European immigrants for higher prices for housing and the increasing crime. Residents usually avoid discussing the topic in public, and it is advisable to not take a stance in the discussion as this may lead to starting a brawl.
Proximity to the North Sea grants Kraainem a mild sea climate. Temperatures are between 4°C and 20°C most of the year.
In winter, periods of a few successive colder days are common, when winds from Scandinavia drop temperatures subzero. Snowfall is rare and limited to a maximum of a few cm per day, so it is not necessary to bring snow boots along when visiting Kraainem in winter. Main roads are deiced quickly by municipality services, but secondary roads may remain slippery until the late afternoon. Although not formally prohibited, ice skating on the ponds of the Jourdain park should not be attempted because the ice is rarely thick enough to support the weight of adults.
In summer, temperatures occasionally rise above 20°C with peaks up to 35°C. When temperature rises above 30°C, locals will seek shelter from the heat, and social life tends to slow down a bit (slower service in restaurants or bars, understaffed public services, etc.) A few successive hot days usually end with a thunder storm and plenty of rain. During hot days, the safe threshold for ozone may be exceeded, at which point it is recommended to minimize physical efforts. Factor 50 sunscreen is recommended in summer, and can be purchased in any supermarket such as the Carrefour Planet, Delhaize or Colruyt. During heat waves and droughts, restrictions on water usage may be temporarily in place to discourage inhabitants of wasting tap water. For example, it may be prohibited to fill swimming pools, wash vehicles or water gardens during periods of drought. However, tourists are not formally expected to know these exceptional regulations of temporary nature, and are therefore unlikely to be fined by police when caught.
The climate in Kraainem is humid the year round, and rain can be expected at any moment, regardless of the time of the year. Visitors should take an umbrella along, a waterproof jacket, or at least spare clothing in a backpack. Weather can change quickly, a cloudless sky in the morning may turn into rain in the afternoon and vice versa, so be prepared to handle both warm and rainy days when visiting. Being more inland than its neighbor to the east, Brussels, Kraainem is usually slightly hotter in summer and colder in winter than Brussels.
address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 17Tourist office at the Kraainem Town Hall. Provides free maps for walking and cycling, as well as tickets for the public transport system.
By metroThe easiest way to reach Kraainem is by metro, get off at station (second last station on line -). Travel time is about 20 minutes from the .
By tramTram operated by the Brussels transport company MIVB traverses Central Kraainem from west to east, get off at .
By planeKraainem also shares an airport (BRU) with Brussels, located to the north. A taxi from to Kraainem will cost about €22.
By busNumerous bus lines and a tram line cross Kraainem. Keep an eye on the logo on the vehicles, as there are 3 companies operating buses in Kraainem, and their tickets are incompatible. Thus, make sure to get a ticket for the company you're traveling with. When in doubt, ask the bus driver for directions.
Brussels transport company MIVB operates 2 lines, (direction ) and (direction ), which also stop at the metro station.
By carProximity to the highways (E40 and R0) make it easily reachable by car if you choose to rent one, but during rush hour (07:00–09:30 and 16:00–18:00), massive traffic jams daily paralyze most of the highways surrounding Brussels, as well as the intercity between Brussels and Leuven.
On footFrom its total area of 5.8 km², only the northern half and centre are of touristic value, the south being residential areas without significant points of interest. With a good portable map, it is possible to cross Kraainem by foot in a single day. To most visitors, it will be most convenient to make a loop with start and end point at Kraainem metro station. From the metro station, walk east until the Grensstraat, then walk to the end until the Kapellelaan. On your way down the Kapellelaan, you'll encounter the Salesian monastery and further down the road, 't Kapelleke. Continue down the Jozef van Hovestraat, with numerous historic farmsteads and farmhouses, until the crossing with the Jef. Thumasstraat in Low Kraainem where you take right. Follow the Jef. Thumasstraat until the Old lease house on the corner, then take right and follow the Oudstrijderslaan with the Eclair park on your right until arriving in High Kraainem. At the Kraainem town hall, take left towards the Saint Pancras Church, and then right into the historic settlement of High Kraainem. Pass through the gate, turn left onto the Steenweg op Zaventem, and walk around the ponds of the Jourdain park, passing the Old vicarage and the Jourdain castle. Continue your walk towards the Vredesplaats/Konining Astridlaan where you'll cross the Peace Monument. Follow the Koningin Astridlaan, walking past the Industrial Heritage Monument, until the crossing with the Groenstraat. At the next intersection, turn right into the Jules Adantstraat past the Bouvier-Washer Cité, then finally at the crossing with the Wezembeeklaan turn right and continue your walk until the Kraainem Metro station. The entire tour takes between 2 and 5 hours, depending on the time you spend at the different landmarks.
By public transportKraainem is crossed by bus lines (316 and 352 from De Lijn), tram line passing through Stokkel, and metro line connecting Stokkel and Kraainem with Brussels. The station is a local transport hub and bus terminal serving as a transit station between metro and bus lines from the Flemish transport company De Lijn, the Brussels transport company MIVB and the Walloon transport company TEC. Each company has its own tickets, which are not accepted by other companies. You can buy tickets on each bus directly from the driver, however, and they are only marginally more expensive than purchasing them beforehand. Travelers are responsible for paying fare rates, drivers may not check the validity of your ticket, but if you're caught without a ticket (zwartrijden in Dutch) you can expect heavy fines up to €150. Aside from local transport, numerous long distance coaches also depart from Kraainem metro, but these require prior reservation and tickets.
The easiest way to plan your public transport journey is using online route planners. The best planner is the one from the national railway company NMBS. If you're familiar with Google Maps, the Transit function may also be used to plan your journey.
Culture and architecture
Saint Pancras Churchphone: +32 2 720 02 61address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 20/2The oldest building in Kraainem, the Saint Pancras Church has its origins in the 12th century. The massive roman tower with walls up to 1.7 meters thick most likely had a military function. Initially, the church was added to the tower and had a simple rectangular shape. In the 13th and 14th century, the northern wing was added to the church. With financial help of the Affligem abbey, the small choir was transformed in the 16th century into the Gothic choir that remains today. Until the 18th century, the entrance to the church was a small door in the south wall, the side that now faces the Kraainem town hall. Around 1720, the entrance was moved to the current baroque gate in the tower. From 1170 onwards, the church underwent significant changes: the asymmetric layout was abandoned, and a third section was added under the same saddle roof. The current sacristy, pulpit and two confessionals were also added. The interior was enhanced with furniture that was not originally intended for the church: the origin of the organ is still a mystery, and in 1873 two altars were purchased for 100 francs each from a Brussels church. At the end of the 19th century, the church escaped a complete transformation in Neo-Romanian style, and a more humble design of Jules Van Ysendyck was chosen instead, which preserved much of the antique interior. In 1984, pastor Vanzulpele observed a depression in the archway above the choir, which started a sequence of restorations finally completed in 2012. The current interior is based on the interior after the renovations of 1770. The graveyard around the church is no longer in use and only serves to preserve the historic image of the building. Religious ceremonies are still being held on Saturday and Sunday, when the church can be visited.
address: Steenweg op Zaventem 54Well preserved remains of the first residential activities in High Kraainem, dating from a Frankish settlement in the 9th century. The complex of interlocked houses and farmsteads, erected in the local sandstone but painted with white walls, is situated between the Saint Pancras Church and Jourdain castle. There is evidence of a stronghold historically situated west of the current location of the church, but it was demolished by the end of the 14th century because it lost its strategic importance. A map of 1397 only reports the location of the moats (fossa castri), which were eventually backfilled and repurposed. Today, no visible evidence remains of the stronghold's existence. From the 14th century to the 19th century, High Kraainem remained a small settlement: at the time of the Belgian independence in 1830, only 15 houses were counted in High Kraainem.
phone: +32 2 720 63 46address: Pastoorkesweg 1A vicarage built in 1652 with a foundation of sandstone and red bricks. The characteristic arc door and slate roof, typical for the era it was built in, have survived restoration efforts. It remained in use as vicarage until 1906, when a new vicarage was built next to the current town hall at Arthur Dezangré Avenue. The building was recognized as architectural heritage in 1976 and restored in 1990. One of the curiosities of the vicarage is a small mechanical single person elevator hidden in the tower under the saddle roof, but it has been out of service for years. The building hosts a restaurant by Maxime Collin.
address: Kasteelweg 4-6The castle was originally a farmstead with a U-shape surrounded by multiple vegetable gardens, as documented in 1771. In 1846, the farmstead was expanded, surrounded by a brick wall, and transformed into a closed farmstead (vierkantshoeve). A barn was also added, but demolished in the late 20th century. It was purchased by doctor Delphin Gaillard in 1883 together with the surrounding park. He gave the 18th century farmstead its current castle appearance, with emphasis on traditional style elements: brick masonry, corners of white sandstone, stepped gables, small towers and a roof resembling a Chinese pagoda. The castle and park were subsequently sold to Victor Jourdain who gave his name to the castle, and in 1980 the property was transferred to the Kraainem municipality which restored the building and used it as community center. The last restoration dates from 2003, when a lift was added. The castle is occasionally opened to the public for cultural events, and is classified as Flemish Architectural Heritage. It hosted a florist until late 1990s, which occupied the large veranda. Recreation grounds with a children's farm make the castle a popular attraction for local families with kids.
address: Hebronlaan 5The order of the Salesians was founded in 1610 close to Annecy in France by Jeanne de Chantal and Francis of Sales, who gave his name to the order. On 12 February 1667, a monastery was founded in Brussels then part of the Southern Netherlands -- but the success of the order was strongly variable in time and by the first half of the 19th century it was nearly extinct in Brussels. A second start on 21 November 1845 had more success, and not even a century later the original location was too small to house the order. Architect Paul Bellot, born in 1876 and specialized in religious architecture, was tasked with the design of a new monastery located outside Brussels. Then still rural Kraainem was chosen because of its remote location, at the time there were no other buildings on the hill, and the closest settlement was Low Kraainem which was only accessible by a narrow unpaved road (now the Kapellelaan). Construction started in 1928, and by the end of 1930 when it was finished, the monastery had become a popular pilgrim destination. Unlike similar monasteries in Belgium, which started out small and were gradually expanded, the availability of sufficient space and budget allowed the entire site to be built at once between 1928 and 1930. All buildings thus show the same style elements, many of which were typical for the designs of Paul Bellot: polychrome bricks from Zandvoorde (a municipality close to Oostende near the Belgian coast) and extensive use of concrete for structural and decorative purposes. Art deco and brick modernism influences can be observed in all aspects of construction. Only the building sides facing the streets (Kapellelaan and Hebronlaan) are decorated (for example, a Madonna sculpture above the entrance), the sides facing the inner sanctum, gardens and orchards do not have any decoration. The architecture and degree of decoration reveals the originally intended purpose of the rooms in the buildings, a feature called architecture parlante. The facades are also hierarchically decorated, with the chapel as most important and thus most extensively decorated part of the structure. The interior resembles a Medieval monastery, with style elements of the Arabic and Mozarabic arts. Illumination was considered paramount by Paul Bellot, and windows are consequently large enough to illuminate the rooms they are intended for, without penalizing decoration. Much of the original woodworking, both indoor and outdoor, has been preserved, as evidenced by the oak inner doors and staircases. The monastery is still in use today, and remains the only Salesian monastery in Belgium. It is not normally opened to visitors, reservations are mandatory. The monastery can be reached from Low Kraainem by following the Jozef van Hovestraat and afterwards the Kappellelaan up the hill.
't Kapellekeaddress: Annecylaan 1The chapel referred to as 't kapelleke by local residents (literally, the chapel) is located at the intersection point of the Jozef van Hovestraat, the Lijsterbessenbomenlaan, the Bossstraat and the Kapellelaan. At the time of its construction in 1932, there were no buildings around its current site, and with the exception of the Jozef van Hovestraat, all streets were unpaved roads. By 1932 however, the crossing became increasingly important because of the expansion of the Laag Kraainem residential area, and the construction of the Salesian Monastery along the Kapellelaan 1 km further between 1928 and 1930. As more streets were added in later years, a roundabout was constructed to divert traffic away from the immediate surroundings of the chapel and preserve the original roads. The chapel is one of the most iconic landmarks of Kraainem, and known by local children because of the adjacent kindergarten and primary school. The chapel is completely surrounded by buildings, and therefor lost most of its authentic outlook. Can be easily reached from Low Kraainem by following the Jozef van Hovestraat up the hill, around 5-min walk.
address: KerkhoflaanBefore 1930, the area of the current cemetery existed as garden for the castle park of Edward De Burbure of Wezembeek. With the rapid expansion of Kraainem in the first half of the 20th century, the cemetery around the Saint Pancras Church lacked the necessary capacity, and the need for a larger cemetery became evident. The area was purchased by the Kraainem municipality in 1933, and it was turned into a cemetery the next year with the construction of 2 service buildings. At the southern entrance of the cemetery, a small area is dedicated to war casualties and veterans. The larger section is reserved for the Jewish community, with was constructed in 1946 and later expanded in 1959. Many graves are victims from the Breendonk concentration camp. A memorial monument for unidentified nazi victims is overlooking the area. The cemetery is a 15 min. walk away from High Kraainem.
address: VredespleinMemorial site for the local casualties of the two World Wars. The square and its monument were constructed in 1930 when the adjacent Queen Astrid Avenue was conceived as the connection between High Kraainem and Stokkel. Before 1930, there were no buildings or roads at the current location. The monument is signed by Victor Demanet who led its construction. Later, inscriptions in memorial of the Second World War were added along with the text gij hebt den dank verdiend van 't vaderland (you have deserved the gratitude of the fatherland). The monument was inaugurated by King Albert I.
address: Jozef van Hovestraat, Molenstraat, Jef. ThumasstraatLow Kraainem is situated in the valley of the Woluwe river, a side river from the Senne, and found its origin at the point where the Kleine Maalbeek (consisting of the Wezembeek and the Sterrebeek) merge into the Woluwe. The historic trajectories of the Woluwe and the Kleine Maalbeek were characterized by many ponds and marshes, but these have gradually disappeared in the 19th and 20th century. The residential center of Low Kraainem primarily consisted of the Jozef Van Hovestraat (previously Kerreweg, Steenstraete and Crainhemstraete, but in 1914 renamed after Jozef Van Hove who was major of Kraainem), Molenstraat and Jef. Thumasstraat. With the construction of the E40 viaduct and Woluwe Avenue, much of the historic center have been destroyed, and the Jozef Van Hovestraat was cut in two halves. Many historic buildings have been preserved however: a 18th century traditional farmstead at nr. 90-92 and a farmhouse from 1739 at nr. 86. Both are evidence of early residential development in the area, encouraged by the tram line that existed at the time (Statieplaats means station square in Dutch). Other historic architecture can be found at nr. 1, 5, 7B, 20, 15-21, 37, 78-82 and 115.
address: Jef. Thumasstraat 16Situated along the route of the tram line that used to connect Low Kraainem with High Kraainem and Sterrebeek, the Lease house is assumed to have served as the central registrar of agricultural properties in Low Kraainem and High Kraainem. The function dates back from before the 19th century, when almost all farmland was property of large land owners, and farmers could only lease the land in exchange for a portion of the crops it yielded. The building dates from late 17th century, but it has been renovated multiple times. Kraainem's council meetings presumably took place at this location until the current town hall was constructed in 1867-1868. A lounge bar is housed in the building.
address: Koningin Astridlaan 183The monument consists of three giant splinters, one wooden and two aluminum, commemorating the rich industrial legacy of Kraainem in the 19th and 20th century. Paper mills in particular have been historically important for employment in Low Kraainem, which was ideally located because of the water supply from the Woluwe and Kleine Maalbeek, and the supply of wood from the nearby Sonian Forest. From the extensive industrial complexes with paper mills, grain mills and brewery, nothing remains today. The monument was designed by Rainer Gross and inaugurated in 2000. Easily reachable from both High and Low Kraainem with a 15 resp. 20 min. walk up the hill towards Stokkel. Alternatively, take bus 352 and get off at Koningin Astrid.
address: Bouvier-Washerstraat 13The Cité, built between 1920 and 1923, was envisioned as a social residential complex for veterans from the First World War who returned from the front line with disabilities. The chlorine gas used as chemical weapon in the early stages of the war in particular turned out to be rarely deadly because it was dispersed in the air, but caused irreversible damage to the lungs of many unprepared soldiers. For the first time in history, large numbers of veterans thus returned home with permanent breathing problems, a disability preventing reintegration in the labor market. At the end of the First World War in 1918, Belgian social security was unprepared to cope with this new phenomenon, and the Association sans but lucratif au profit des mutiléls de guerre (Association for the benevolence of war mutilated individuals) was founded to construct cheap social housing for the victims. Many such social cités were constructed in Kraainem, the Bouvier-Washer Cité was among the first. The architecture is typically regional: red brick facades alternating with brightly painted surfaces, abutments to the corners of walls, anchors and plaits, etc. The neighboring Korenbloemstraat served the same purpose but was added 10 years later between 1930 and 1932. Many buildings have been modified, but the authentic looks were preserved in Korenbloemstraat no. 28. The Cité is still used as a residential area today, as houses were sold or passed on to heirs after the original veteran inhabitants died. About 20 - 25 min walk from High Kraainem, follow Koningin Astridlaan direction Stokkel until the crossing with the Wezembeek, then take left. Alternatively, take bus 352 direction Kraainem Metro and get off at stop Koningin Astrid.
Parks and nature
Jourdain ParkThe area east of the High Kraainem residential complex, at the time situated long the curvy road that connected Kraainem with Wezembeek, was purchased in 1883 by doctor Delphin Gaillard. The park only came to existence in 1899 when successive owner Victor Jourdain, who gave his name to the park, added 8.5 ha of marsh and woodland to the area before the start of the First World War in 1914. After his death in 1918, his heirs added the large ponds along the Kleine Maalbeek to the park, an addition of 4 ha. This included a watermill, which used the largest of the two ponds as a reservoir. The park consisted of the current ponds, but also a vegetable garden and orchard. Unfortunately, a large portion of the park was sacrificed for the construction of highway R0 in 1973. From then on, the park was governed by the Kraainem municipality. As of today, the park hosts a large variety of rare and exotic plants and trees, including Platanus x hispanica, Tilia platyphyllos, T. tomentosa, Aesculus hippocastanum, and Sequoiadendron giganteum.
Eclair Parkaddress: Oudstrijderslaan 87A small park in Low Kraainem, the counterpart of the Jourdain park in High Kraainem. Willow trees are the symbol of Kraainem, and the willow tree of the Eclair park is one of the last remaining, after the iconic willow tree in front of the Saint Pancras Church was chopped during the renovation of the church in 2011. The pond is fed by a small spring, originally a source of fresh water for the inhabitants of Low Kraainem, but due to ground water contamination, the spring water is no longer suitable for human consumption. The pond drains into the Kleine Maalbeek, which in turns merges into the Woluwe 200 m further. The pond is a rich biome, as evidenced by the countless water plants in and around it. In recent years, the pond also functions as flood water storage. A small recreation area makes the park a popular destination for families with young kids in Low Kraainem.
Old Tram TrackTrajectory of a historic tram track connecting the royal palace in Laken with the king's summer residence in Tervuren (now it's the Africa museum). Only a fraction of the historic track is in use, the remainder converted into a long stretched park reaching from Kraainem to Oudergem. Used by students of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel as bicycle highway to reach the Etterbeek campus. Beautiful trajectory, crossing the border between Flanders and Brussels. Approximate length is 8 km. To return by metro, take line 5 in Oudergem towards Erasmus/Erasme and change for line 1 towards Stokkel/Stockel at Merode. Not recommendable in rainy weather.
Sonian ForestThe Sonian Forest, covering an area of ca. 4400 ha, is the largest and best preserved remnant of the historical Silva Carbonaria, commonly known as the charcoal forest, that in the 4th century still stretched from Thuin to Brussels. It has a large geomorphological value because significant sections on the Loess plateau had never been felled in history, thus retaining the characteristics of a primeval forest. The highest point reaches 133 m above sea level. The source of the IJse is situated in the center of the Sonian Forest, and its trajectory spawned countless ponds, creeks and marshes. Archaeological evidence of human activity in the Sonian Forest has been traced back to neolithic remains over 5000 years old. Remains of iron ore smelters from the Carolingian era have also been found. It is presumably under the reign of Charles the Great (768-814) that the Sonian Forest got split off from the Silva Carbonaria and developed an independent fauna and flora. Under Austrian reign in the 18th century, thousands of beech trees were planted, which is still visible today. From the 18th century onwards, the forest saw increasing economic importance: several monasteries and priories were built in and around it, and the countless ponds served to provide them with a supply of fish whereas the forest itself had a hunting ground function. Nearly nothing of these buildings remains today, but the intense network of droveways reveals their historic locations and importance. Under French reign, from 1794 to 1814, the Sonian Forest was nationalized, and large areas were felled for economic reasons. After the Belgian independence of 1830, parts of the forest were sold off to individuals to fill the new country's treasury, but in 1843 it became property of the state. The first half of the 19th century brought new disaster to the forest, however, when in 1832 the General Society (Société Generale) started the construction of roads that cut the forest in smaller pieces. A railway connection between Brussels and Terhulpen was constructed in 1854, further dividing the forest. After the Second World War, the roads were significantly widened and paved, then later upgraded to the highways that still exist today, and are part of the Brussels Ringway R0. The lack of tunnels or bridges make them a significant barrier for the fauna in the forest: foxes, boars, frogs, toads, deers, and recently also budgerigars. Although only a tiny fraction of the Sonian forest is geographically situated in Kraainem, the forest has become very popular with locals for recreation purposes. The Sonian Forest is a . The forest offers excellent opportunities for hiking, Nordic walking, jogging and cycling. Fishing or camping are not allowed, however. The forest can be reached from the Kraainem center with bus 316 direction Leuven (get off at Middenlaan) or explored by Villo bike (see Get around).
Central Parkaddress: Koningin Astridlaan 274A small park near the geographic center of Kraainem, hence its name. Adjacent to the famous Bouvier-Washer Cité, it offers visitors benches to rest and a calm environment to enjoy the surroundings. The park is maintained as a natural habitat for local fauna, by keeping grass mowing to a strict minimum. In the early morning or late evening, encounters with wildlife are likely, and visitors can enjoy observing rabbits, weasels and even foxes in the wild. It is formally prohibited to feed wildlife, and visitors should refrain from taking out food around animals, foxes in particular.
phone: +32 2 721 28 06address: Lijsterbessenbomenlaan 6A modern theater hall, grown into the cultural center of Kraainem. New shows on a weekly basis. An opportunity for tourists to get a taste of Flemish culture and lifestyle. Don't forget to have a drink at the bar afterwards, where local residents hang out for smalltalk.
phone: +32 479 35 16 45address: Bosstraat 85The football club of Kraainem is known for its multiculturalism, uniting over 300 players from 40 countries in sports. Aside from 2 senior teams, the club is carried by youngsters between 6 and 21 years old. Football courses are available to children in that age range in Dutch, English and French. Matches are played in the stadium at the Bosstraat, which has a rich history on its own. Entering the stadium is free, even during matches, only seats must be paid for. The cantina serves drinks and snacks, and hosts occasional cultural events.
phone: +32 475 58 20 38address: Patronaatstraat 10The sports center of Kraainem is located between the historic center of High Kraainem and the E40 highway in the valley of the Kleine Maalbeek. The center is a multifunctional complex for tennis, acrobatics, badminton, volleyball, table tennis, futsal, judo and mini football. Facilities are available for indoor and outdoor tennis, on a 5 minute walking distance from High Kraainem center. In winter, ice skating on the natural ice of the nearby pond is a popular attraction for locals.
phone: +32 2 720 16 02address: Patronaatstraat 17Public library, offering a collection of novels, comic books, CDs and DVDs, primarily in Dutch and English. The membership fee for one year is € 5 for adults, membership is free for anyone younger than 18. Renting materials is also free, but limited to 10 pieces per membership card.
Aircraft spottingWatching landing aircraft is a popular hobby in Kraainem due to its location in the vicinity of the Brussels International Airport. Areas east of Kraainem find themselves under a runway flight route, enabling viewers to spot landing aircraft if wind direction and weather permits it.
CurrencyTo obtain cash, there are 3 methods:
- Exchange another currency against euros at the Zaventem airport upon arrival;
- Withdraw cash from an ATM (beware, additional fees may apply);
- Request additional cash from the cashier at Carrefour when paying electronically.
phone: +32 2 731 97 40address: Koningin Astridlaan 233Bank office with ATM, helpful and friendly service.
phone: +32 2 711 03 50address: Oudstrijderslaan 11Office of a large French bank, more likely to accept and exchange foreign currencies.
Businesses do not expect gratuity, although it is customary to round the amount in restaurants to the nearest bill (€5) if the service and food was good.
ShoppingThe historic town center of Kraainem is too small to provide satisfactory shopping experience, and commerce primarily consists of restaurants, bars and cafés. The best place for shoppers in Kraainem is the Kraainem Carrefour Planet shopping center. Alternatively, shoppers may cross into Sint-Pieters-Woluwe for a shopping experience in Stokkel, or the much larger Woluwe Shopping Center.
Historic shopping districtNumerous shops spread along the streets of the historic center of Kraainem. Large variety of premises, but does not offer the best opportunities to fashionistas.
Kraainem Shoppingaddress: Wezembeeklaan 114Largest shopping center in Kraainem, with nearly all commodities available. Notable shops include a Leonidas (Belgian chocolates), Carrefour Planet (hypermarket), Delhaize (groceries) and Brico (leisure and construction related items). Too far out of the town center to walk, but easily reachable with bus 316 or 352 (get off at Konigin Astrid).
Zwaluwenhofaddress: Molenstraat 33Historic farmstead, selling a variety of local organic food. Located in the Molenstraat, the historic connection between Low and High Kraainem before the Arthur Dezangrélaan relieved traffic from this narrow street. A 5 minute walk away from the historic Jozef Van Hovestraat in Low Kraainem.
Food, drinks and convenience itemsKraainem has a few supermarkets, all with their own specialties: general groceries, organic foods, souvenirs & gifts, and so on. Those open on Fridays stay open an hour longer than the other days of the week, to give locals the opportunity to go shopping after work.
phone: +32 2 785 06 11address: Wezembeeklaan 114French hypermarkt chain, and largest store in Kraainem with a variety of food and drinks, including prepared meals to go. They also carry other items that may come in handy: prepaid SIM cards, post cards and stamps, and in the summer season a range of camping items such as tents and backpacks.
phone: +32 2 731 21 35address: Ferdinand Kinnenstraat 9Belgian discount supermarket based in Halle, offering the lowest prices on branded foods. Smaller selection than Carrefour, but a bit cheaper. A great place to shop for snacks!
phone: +32 2 772 62 97address: Langestraat 6Since 2011 the largest store for organic food in Kraainem, with a selection of daily fresh bread, vegetables, and groceries. A wide range of drinks, milk (almond milk, rice, coconut, ...), fruit and vegetable juices. They also have a selection of organic wines, as well as gluten free products such as bread, baguettes and cake. Strong emphasis on locally produced goods.
Carrefour Expressphone: +32 2 720 98 01address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 11Small supermarket in High Kraainem, more expensive than Carrefour or Colruyt, but one of the few that are open on Sundays.
Delhaizephone: +32 2 784 36 48address: Wezembeeklaan 112Supermarket specialized in fine foods and luxury products. Too expensive for general grocery shopping, but a great place to search for Belgian specialties (chocolate, Speculoos spread, beers), souvenirs, and presents for family when you return home.
Getting the taste of real Belgian fries is a must when visiting Kraainem. A fritkot is the traditional Flemish version of a street vendor specializing in fries (and more recently also other types of fast food). Another local speciality are smoutebollen, dough pastries deep fried in vegetable oil and served with powdered sugar.
De LijsterbesSmall restaurant in the Cultural Center in the Kraainem town center. It specializes in traditional Flemish dishes (paling in 't groen, stoofvlees, tomate crevette, and many others). Ask for the dish of the day (dagschotel) for €12. Mostly visited by locals, and a great opportunity to get to know local residents and initiate smalltalk with them. Very kids friendly. Reservations are mandatory in the weekend.
FrituurA traditional Flemish fritkot serving fries, among many other types of fast food. Ask for home made fries, or you may be adversely served the industrial, frozen variant, with less flavor.
phone: +32 2 688 39 58address: Koningin Astridlaan 265Prepared sandwiches and salads, energy and candy bars, and assorted foods. Expensive, but open until 22:00. Most commodity items are available at Carrefour 300 m further for a lower price.
phone: +32 2 782 00 45address: Prinses Joséphine Charlotteplaats 8A fine dining Italian restaurant, specializing in pasta dishes and antipasti. They don't serve pizza, and the owner will gladly explain you the logic behind that decision if you ask for it. A romantic setting, 15-minute walk from the Kraainem town center. Not suitable for families with kids. The restaurant is almost always fully booked, so reservations are mandatory.
phone: +32 472 544 544address: Wezembeeklaan 66Take-away Italian food on a walking distance from Central Park and the historic Bouvier-Washer Cité.
Fu-LaiAsian cuisine in a relaxing setting. Fairly priced. The large aquariums with countless exotic fish next to the tables are a popular attraction for kids.
phone: +32 2 721 96 48address: Leuvensesteenweg 179, 1932 ZaventemA Chinese self-service restaurant with a massive buffet including warm and cold appetizers, sushi, dim-sums, soup, salad bar, wok and deserts. On Sundays and holidays, teppanyaki is also served at an additional cost. Good choice for family events and large groups, or for dining or dinner with kids. Can be reached easily with bus 358, 351, 410, 359 or 318. Closed on Tuesdays. Reservation is usually not necessary. Prices range from €10.90 for lunch during the week to €22.50 for lunch and dinner during the weekends, including teppanyaki. Reduction for children.
phone: +32 2 721 98 33address: Oudstrijderslaan 81Chinese restaurant right across Eclair park, a few minutes walking from Low Kraainem. Mid-range, good value. Accommodation for larger groups, for example family celebration events. Kids friendly. Reservations are recommended.
phone: +32 2 731 53 84address: Koningin Astridlaan 315Cozy Thai restaurant with limited seating, but excellent food for those appreciating the oriental cuisine. Reservation is recommended. Most of their offers are also available as take away.
Although tap water is safe to drink, few restaurants or bars will serve it. When ordering still water, you'll be served more expensive bottled water (Spa, Bru, Chaudfontaine, ...) instead.
The popularity of ice tea as a soft drink is in Kraainem on par with Coca Cola, and widely available. When ordering ice tea, most restaurants and bars will serve you Lipton Ice Tea Lemon, a favorite among Belgians, which is sparkling unlike its variants in neighboring countries (i.e. Germany). If you prefer non sparkling ice tea, order Nestea instead. The latter may not be universally available, however.
By far the most popular drink served in bars is beer, one of Belgium's national prides. Many types and brands are available, each having different flavors and alcoholic content. Some types may not be available around the year, particularly those based on fruits, or those meant for special occasions (i.e. Christmas beers with cinnamon). The most common beers are Stella, Jupiler and Maes, and bars will serve at least one of those. When ordering a pint or pintje (pronounced with the i of finish), you'll be served the common beer they have on hand. Since no tap water is served in bars, a pintje (33 cl) is often cheaper than still water (50 cl). There are around 130 officially recognized breweries in Belgium, producing over 1000 different beer types. In addition, many locals brew their own beer as a hobby, with carefully developed recipes, and often better taste than commercial beers. Do not attempt to order industrially produced beers like Heineken or Budweiser in Belgian bars, these beers are regarded as inferior and you'll insult the waiter or waitress by doing so. While Belgian beers are widely regarded as the best in the world, they are also the strongest in alcoholic content, some reaching 10 - 13% vol. This may be an inconvenient surprise to those not expecting such a high concentration.
The traditional beer of Kraainem, Brussels and the Pajottenland is the lambic. These beers differ from other beers because they are fermented by wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Senne valley instead of cultivated brewer's yeast. This gives lambic beers their more accentuated flavor, often with a sour aftertaste. A popular variant is the kriek lambic, a type of fruit beer (fruitbier) which is made by fermenting lambic with sour Morello cherries originally native to the nearby municipality of Schaarbeek. The cherries are added in whole (including pits) and left to ripe for several months, their sugars are fermented completely, thus resulting in an unsweetened but fruit flavored beer. In recent years, some breweries have added sugar after the fermentation process to obtain a less intense, mild flavor, targeting female customers. Variants with raspberries instead of cherries (frambozenlambiek) are also available. A special variant of the lambic is the geuze, which is produced by blending young (1 year old) and older (2 - 3 years old) lambic. The fermentable sugars present in the young lambic cause a second fermentation cycle in the bottle, resulting in a higher carbon dioxide content. Unlike other lambics, geuze bottles are therefore highly pressurized and should be handled with care. They will therefore not be allowed on airplanes, even checked in.
phone: +32 2 725 20 41address: Lijsterbessenbomenlaan 4Trendy bar associated with the community center with the same name, located in a modern glass building on a 5 min. walk from the High Kraainem historic center. Large selection of soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, coffee and tea. Also serves a warm lunch, see "Eat". Small snacks are available throughout the day. Very popular with locals, government officials working at the nearby town hall, and retired elderly. The best place in Kraainem to meet locals and have a chat about nearly any topic, if you're not under time pressure at least.
phone: +32 479 96 54 76address: Oudstrijderslaan 3A traditional Flemish bar (café or kroeg), one of the last remaining in Kraainem. Bars like De Ronne Hoeck (Flemish dialect for the round corner, referring to its location) used to play an important role in Flemish social life until the early 2000s, because they served as meeting points for locals of all social classes and ranks. For many commoners it used to be a daily routine to pass through the local bar on their way home from work, to discuss politics, sports and assorted topics while beers helped to forget the burdens of work. Traditional bars like De Ronne Hoeck are characterized by the lack of proper illumination and dark colored wooden furniture, leading to the name bruine kroeg (literally brown bar). From the 21st century the popularity of traditional bars declined sharply under pressure of the expensive euro, the ban on indoor smoking, and competition with more trendy lounge bars. Not the most inviting to tourists, but an interesting place for those looking to experience Flemish social history.
phone: +32 2 241 84 98address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 20A small bar located in the historic center of High Kraainem, in front of the town hall and next to the road leading to the Saint Pancras Church. Their terrace gives a beautiful view over the old town and the church in particular. Focuses on local and international alcoholic drinks, primarily beers.
phone: +32 2 731 79 44address: Wezembeeklaan 114A bar located in the Carrefour Planet shopping center, near the western exit. A convenient place to enjoy Belgian beer and rest after an exhausting shopping experience. Small cuisine (soup and snacks) also available on request.
B&B 3Baddress: Jozef van Hovestraat 66A B&B a 15-min walk from the historic town center, in the famous Jozef van Hovestraat where many 17th- and 18th-century farmsteads are located.
B&B The Nestaddress: Baron d'Huartlaan 295A small B&B at 300 m from the Sonian Forest. A direct tram connection leads visitors to the Kraainem city center as well as the Brussels city center.
phone: +32 475 60 84 42address: In de Poort 11, 1970 Wezembeek-OppemA B&B run by an elderly couple, just across the border with neighboring commune Wezembeek-Oppem. It is located in a residential neighborhood away from the street side, very quiet, and a good night rest is guaranteed here. Breakfast is optional for €5. Walking from Kraainem Central Park takes about 25 - 30 minutes.
A Sunny and Green Real Homeaddress: Raymond Hernalsteenstraat 57, 1970 Wezembeek-OppemA guest house in the neighboring municipality Wezembeek-Oppem. Not easily reachable by public transport, a car or taxi is required to connect to the Kraainem town center.
address: Groenstraat 43Located in an apartment building in the center of Kraainem, 2 minutes away from the Bouvier-Washer Cité and 5 minutes from the Kraainem Shopping Center on Wezembeek Avenue. The Kraainem metro station is 8 minutes walking away, permitting easy access into the Brussels city.
phone: +32 2 736 63 19address: In de Poort 11A small house with 3 rooms that can be rented individually or together, close to the International German School of Brussels, and on walking distance from the tram to Kraainem City Center and Brussels.
A small camping site is located on the border between Kraainem and Wezembeek-Oppem. However, keep in mind that Belgian weather can be very unpredictable and wet, even in summer, if you consider camping. Under Belgian law, camping is only allowed on officially recognized camp sites, and camping in public parks or forests may result in a fine between €60 and €200.
phone: +32 2 782 10 09address: Warandeberg 52, 1970 Wezembeek-OppemA camping in the neighboring municipality of Wezembeek-Oppem. A 25-min walk away from the Kraainem town center.
Kraainem also has complete 3G coverage, so with a European SIM card it is possible to connect to 3G Internet. Be aware that roaming may be expensive if your operator is not based in a European Union country (see also European Union article). Alternatively, a SIM card may be purchased from the local operator Mobile Vikings, which offers 2 GB data volume for €12 and accepts payment by PayPal, Bitcoin, and many mainstream payment options.
address: Wezembeeklaan 114Send and receive mail, packages and post cards.
address: Potaardestraat 10Largest postal office in Kraainem, selling postal related commodities (boxes, envelopes, stamps). Doubles as a bank office, allowing sending and receiving money.
Free Wi-Fi is available at Carrefour (Wezembeeklaan 114) and the adjacent but very poor quality and thus not recommendable Lunch Garden restaurant. Many other smaller cafés, restaurants, bars and shops also offer free Wi-Fi.
phone: +32 2 766 18 18address: Molenweg 20, 1970 Wezembeek-OppemLocal police station for Kraainem and Wezembeek-Oppem. Officers can be expected to communicate fluently in Dutch and English. For emergencies, call 112 instead of +32 2 766 18 18.
Dr. P. & S. Van Muldersphone: +32 2 720 10 51address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 20General medicine.
address: Koningin Astridlaan 145General medicine.
Dr. Stefaan Van Muldersaddress: Koningin Astridlaan 23General medicine.
Pharmacy Matternephone: +32 2 731 73 68address: Koningin Astridlaan 23General medicine.
Pharmacy Dynapharphone: +32 2 731 06 06address: Koningin Astridlaan 272General medicine.
Pharmacy Piensphone: +32 2 720 47 90address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 35General medicine.
In case of medical emergency, the nearby UCL hospital can provide medical services. To call an ambulance, dial 112 and specify your position. An ambulance will be dispatched to pick you up.
phone: +32 2 764 16 02address: Hippokrateslaan 10, 1200 St-Lambrechts-WoluweHospital on the border between Kraainem and St-Lambrechts-Woluwe, 5 min. from Kraainem town center. In case of emergency, walk to the spoedgevallen (emergency cases) where you'll be treated without prior appointment.
phone: +32 2 688 18 00address: Wezembeeklaan 106Neighborhood clinic next to the Carrefour Planet commercial area, equipped to treat minor injuries and illnesses. Making an appointment by phone is recommendable.
If pets get ill or hurt, a veterinarian office is available in the Kraainem town center.
phone: +32 2 721 37 05address: Arthur Dezangrélaan 4General animal health, treatment of pets and farm animals. Making an appointment by telephone is recommendable.
- — the capital of Belgium and host of many of the European Union institutions.
- — famous for beer, technology, and one of the oldest universities in Western Europe. Well preserved historic city center.
- Hike through the , the "green lung" of Brussels, known for its century old beech trees.
- — a picturesque town in the shadow of the Sonian Forest with a large public park and former summer residence palace of the Belgian king.
- — famous for its abbey and beer.