Village :: Han-sur-Lesse (Belgium)
Famous for the exceptional caves under a nearby hill by the river Lesse, which tourists reach via a preserved remnant of the tramway system.
Interestingly, it is easier to get information about number of tourists coming to the village during summer months, than about the number of villagers themselves. We know that every July and August, population of Han-sur-Lesse increases by 3000 people. Picturesque river Lesse alone could draw enough visitors, but it is also the cause of a great geological wonder. Throughout the years, water erosion caused by the flow of Lesse have carved caves in the limestone of the river coast. These caves are known worldwide as Caves of Han and remain the main tourist attraction.
As if the caves themselves were not enough, the way to reach them is quite amazing, too. Nowadays you still can use a "vicinal tramway" - a remains of a narrow gauge railway that once covered the whole Belgium and had a greater route length than "normal" railway system. Except Han-sur-Lesse, this kind of transportation can still be found only in Charleroi and on the coast. The network of Tramways vicinaux or Buurtspoorwegen (this is how its name look in French and Dutch, the two official languages in Belgium) was thriving for decades and even saw a great increase of traffic during World War I and World War II, and only after 1950 busses and lorries stole the show.
If these two attractions still leave you cold, the village has something else up its sleeve. One thing is an archaeologic museum that shows the finds from Neolithic Period and explains formations of the caves. Another one is a park of wild animals, that was founded in 1970 and since then grew its collection. You can observe boars, lynx, wolves, deer, brown bear, European bison and many more. The excursion through the park is also done with the small train. You can name it a train safari!
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