Border water walk 9: The source of the Limburg national anthem

Starting and ending point:
Waterstraat 7
6017 AJ
Thorn
water mill
church

Walking/hiking routes

Length: 9.22 km.

From a white town to a white castle. Along the meandering Itterbeek and through the wet nature Vijverbroek. Along the way, we also pass the source of Waar in 't bronze-green oak wood, the Limburg national anthem. This is a very brief summary of this border walk that starts in Thorn in the street with an appropriate name: Waterstraat.

The first and last part of our walk takes us through the charming white town with its historic village center that is, of course, a protected village sight. Or rather we should say protected townscape because Thorn has town rights. White is the dominant color in Thorn, which, before its stately houses were whitewashed, was ruled for centuries by the stiftdames, a convent community in which the convent rules were interpreted rather freely. This was because only unmarried women of high nobility were allowed to enter. The women of the abbey did not live in sober cells like other monks but in relative luxury. And if such a lady of the house wanted to marry, but remained within the order, she moved to a princely residence in Thorn. The mini principality was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire.

Closed windows

After the noble ladies fled in 1794 from the advancing revolutionary French, who did not care for the institution of the church, the French occupiers introduced a tax based on the number of windows in a house. The poor population of Thorn, who often lived in large properties that had previously belonged to rich people, could not afford this tax. To limit the amount of tax they had to pay, they bricked up many windows. To hide these "scars of poverty," the houses were painted white. Thus Thorn became the white town. The abbey was demolished in 1797.

We walk to the gothic former abbey church (now a parish church), built in the 10th century, past museum Land van Thorn, which tells the whole story of the town. Then we go downhill on a cobblestone street to the Itterbeek. Just before the bridge over the stream, we turn right (Beekstraat). After passing the cemetery we enter a beautiful piece of creek nature. Enjoyment blown. First, we walk along the Itterbeek on a narrow dirt path, later the path widens. The Itterbeek is here a border river. The source of the 30-kilometer long river is in Belgium on the Kempen Plateau.

Horses

We are on our way to junction 22. We must remember the wooden bridge that leads across the stream at one point on our left. We don't cross it but walk straight ahead. At a T-junction near a soccer field, turn left. At a certain point, we get a view on our right of the landmark of Ittervoort, the 118 meters high mediators. Built in 1989 and currently in use as a data center. At the cemetery we reach Ittervoort. From 22 keep direction 21, so cross the busy Napoleonsbaan. At the Schouwmolen (17) we come to the brook again. On the other bank, we have to make a choice. If you don't want to pass by the Konik horses living in the wild here, you can go from node 51 via 52 to 53. We walk from 51 via a piece of wild nature right along the meandering stream to 53. We see a tree with beaver tracks and indeed three horses. Of course, we keep a safe distance.

In Neeritter, we pass the Armenmolen (Armen mill) (54) and walk through the Molenstraat, past the church via the Driessenstraat and the Gasthuisstraat to the Bosstraat and the border with Belgium. At border pole 138 it's time to sing a song. The national anthem of both Limburgen (although the Belgian Limburgers do not sing the last verse because it depicts our House of Orange). Teacher and lyricist Gerard Krekelberg from Neeritter wrote the lyrics in 1909. At that time the title was still Limburg my Fatherland. In 1939 it became 'our' national anthem and since then it is called Waar in 't bronze-green oak wood.

Beyond the border, post lies behind trees and bushes Borgitter Castle. Also called the white castle. It lies with its own water mill, the Borchmolen, on the Belgian bank of the Itterbeek. The castle was built around 1540. Because of the lush greenery, we can't see much of it from the street side. We walk along the Kasteelstraat in the direction of the former free domain of Kessenich, a place situated along the Maas, the Witbeek, the Raambeek, and the Itterbeek. Take the first street to the left (Kleine Kasteelstraat) and further on the cross the Napoleonsbaan again.

Marsh

We now follow the blue pastille and walk into the nature reserve Vijverbroek. This is a beautiful swamp area that lies between Kessenich, Neeritter, Ittervoort, and Thorn. But it is on Belgian territory. You walk through swamp forests consisting of alder thickets, willow thickets, and wet grasslands. Wild grazers also walk here, but we don't get to see them. Eventually, the paths with the blue pastilles take us to a T-junction at the bridge over Itterbeek, which we saw at the start. The bridge is on the left, but we choose to turn right and walk along the stream for a bit without markings. A beautiful piece through the woods and along the edge of a meadow to the Kessenicherweg near Thorn.

We end up at the bridge in Thorn, which we didn't cross at all in the beginning, now we do. Behind the bridge, the hiker can choose. Turn right and walk back along the brook to the Waterstraat, or first make a pleasant stroll through Thorn and maybe spend some present-day money in the little town that received coinage rights in the 10th century. That right was abolished in 1582, but the noble abbots continued to mint coins until the 17th century. Whether that was counterfeit money, history does not tell.


Source: Chapeau Magazine
Photo: eighty8things

Practical information

Border water walk 9: The source of the Limburg national anthem

Starting and ending point:
Waterstraat 7
6017 AJ
Thorn
Properties
Route: 5-10 km.
Route from A to A

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