About the village
The small village of Elen has a long history. It is first mentioned in the year 1150 as ‘Hellini’ (from ‘Halina’, which means hard dry soil, or from ‘Aljo(n)’ (house of Allio(n)). It has been inhabited for much longer, though. The Sipernau Castle, for example, appears as a farm in sources dating back to the 8th century. The castle itself was built in the second half of the 14th century. Legend has it that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his men spent the night there on their return from the fatal campaign in Russia.
Today, the village is mainly known for its beautiful nature just outside the village centre. This is because gravel extraction in this area created some beautiful lakes such as Meerheuvel and Bichterweerd. The latter is now a real paradise for many waders and other special water birds. In the ‘Elerweerd’ nature reserve, gravel extraction will be started within a few years. This is when the landscape will change drastically, with even more room for new nature.
What is there to do?
The area of Elen is ideal for exploring on foot. You will spend most of your time in a rural environment. You can stroll along the Meuse and nature reserves and in the village centre, the past comes back to life. For those who like some help to get started, a few tips:
- Discover the hiking region Elen with its mill ‘De Hoop’, nature reserves ‘Bichterweerd’, ‘Meerheuvel’ and ‘De Broeken’. Also wander up to castle Sipernau.
- Set off with a Meuse Explorer in tow.
Thanks to the extensive cycling route network in Belgium and the Netherlands, you can create your own cycling route using junctions that are indicated in both directions. This way, you can decide which direction you want to go and how long your ride will be. During your cycling trip, take a ferry to the other side of the river Meuse (via junction 49). That way, cross-border cycling in the RivierPark Maasvallei will be very hassle-free. Join the cycling route network via junction 26 in Heppeneert or junction 49 in Dilsen. You can park on the church square in Elen. You can map out your cycling route using the cross-border map RivierPark Maasvallei.
- Windmill ‘De Hoop’: restored windmill and holiday home.
- Sipernau Castle (not accessible)
- Farmstead built around a courtyard and multifunctional heritage site Het Lemke: restored farmstead, monument.
- Café In de Goude Ster: cosy village pub with authentic interior.
For more information and tips, please visit Toerisme Dilsen - Stokkem.