Situated in the north-east of Brussels, the municipality of Haren has always played a pioneering role. Continental Europe’s first railway line, connecting Brussels to Mechelen, was welcomed onto its territory in 1835, and Belgium’s first airport was built there in 1915. Bordered by the Willebroek canal, it has remained a crucial communications hub for the country, hosting the NATO headquarters, as well as the STIB/MIVB (Brussels’s public transport company) depots. Amazingly, in spite of this, it has managed to preserve its original village centre, to the extent that it feels as if one is in the heart of the Walloon Brabant countryside, although Haren lies just a stone’s throw from the Grand Place. Mentioned as far back as the 13th century, Saint Elisabeth’s Church has retained its authenticity, surrounded by old houses and numerous farms where chicory, once the symbol of Haren, was grown. Vegetable gardens, meadows, marshes and rural pathways give a genuine country feel to this small village, which has benefitted from the presence of the Senne and Woluwe valleys. Another remnant of the medieval past is Castrum farm, first mentioned in 1322. Although partially in ruins, the ancient keep can still be made out. The walls are up to 1.5 m thick in places, emphasising the defensive importance of this fortified dwelling, which was reserved for the minor nobility during this period. Indeed, in the 15th century, the complex belonged to the noble De Hertoghe and Vandernoot families, before passing to the Cortenbach family in the 16th century. The various agricultural buildings scattered around the keep were arranged around a courtyard, in the typical Brabant tradition. The farm operated until 1830. In 1913, a fire destroyed the roofs, damaging the old stepped gables.
Rue de Cortenbach/Kortenbachstraat, Rue du Donjon/Wachttorenstraat, Rue du Pré aux Oies/Ganzenweidestraat and Rue Sainte-Élisabeth/Sint-Elisabethstraat