Geraardsbergen is a small town located in the Denderstreek and Flemish Ardennes in the province of East-Flanders. It is located on the flanks of the Oudenberg Hill, a pre-Christian place of worship, according to local tradition. Because of its strategic location among the medieval duchies of Flanders, Hainaut, and Brabant, it was one of the first communities to be granted the city status in Western Europe in the eleventh century.
In the cycling world, the city is famous for the Muur, a steep, cobblestoned climb that used to be the last obstacle of the legendary Ronde van Vlaanderen. Geraardsbergen offers a lot of options for cyclists. More experienced cyclists can go for the plentiful hills in the area; others might choose for the track along the river Dender.
The festival of Krakelingen, held annually in February, is a centuries-old celebration recognized by UNESCO as immaterial cultural heritage. The celebration starts with a parade depicting the history of the city. After the parade, people gather on the Oudenberg, where magistrates drink live fish and throw the "krakelingen" (pretzels) into the crowd. One of the krakelingen contains a golden ring, which the person who catches it can keep. In the evening, everyone gathers again to watch Tonnekensbrand, the burning of a wooden barrel to celebrate spring.
Geraardsbergen is well known in the area for its mattentaarten, a type of sweet pastry made with cheese curds. Also try the Muurken, a local beer.
As everywhere in Belgium the weather in Geraardsbergen suffers from mood swings. Be prepared for rain any time of the year!
Geraardsbergen has a train station with a direct line to Brussels and Ghent. Various buses also connect Geraardsbergen with other towns and villages, so you will be have no trouble planning onward travel when you finish your stay at your Geraardsbergen hostel.
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