Signal de Botrange: the highest point in Belgium is a staircase to nowhere
We are about 5km north of Ovifat, in Belgium.
Signal de Botrange, the lowly remains of an ancient volcanic area once called de Hoge Venen, now doesn’t look like much little more than a big plateau.
The area experiences stronger winds than the centre of Belgium, its average and extreme temperatures are usually lower than at any other place in the country and rainfall is much greater: there are over 200 days of precipitation per year.
However, this rainy and seemingly flat landscape is actually situated 694 meters above sea level, making it the highest point in Belgium.
The summit of the country is home on its flanks to several sources of Ardennes rivers, all belonging to the Mosan basin, like the Helle, Roer and Schwarzbach to the north, Bayehon to the south, and the Trôs Marets to the west.
If the Signal de Botrange is not a state border, it marks Belgium’s language border in the area between the Romance languages (south and west) and Germanic languages (north and east).
Apparently, mapping the country’s highest point in at just shy of 700 meters was simply too tantalizing, and so in 1923, a 6-meter stone staircase was built atop the peak. Thus, from its height, on the top step of the seemingly nonsensical staircase, visitors can see the land from exactly 700 meters above sea level.
Eleven years later, an observation tower was built atop Signal de Botrange reaching a height of 718 meters above sea level. Of course, It may be taller, but it doesn’t have the whimsical charm of a staircase that leads to nowhere….
Author’s notes: if you drive to the Signal de Botrange, there is a free parking. In the winter, there are cross country ski trails starting here. In the summer all sorts of trails cross the “Hohen Venn,” the high moors of Belgium.
Images from web