At Belgium’s Barrage de La Gileppe, visitors can experience the harmony of engineering and nature. This man-made reservoir is not only a source of water but also a popular tourist attraction due to its scenic beauty. In this article, we will explore the history and construction of the Barrage de La Gileppe, its role in the surrounding ecosystem, and the recreational opportunities it provides.
The History of the Barrage de La Gileppe
The Société des Eaux de la Gileppe initiated the construction of Barrage de La Gileppe in 1869 to provide clean drinking water to the city of Verviers and the surrounding areas. In 1878, the original dam was completed, measuring 67 meters high and 360 meters long. It was one of the strongest dams in Europe and the first modern dam built in Belgium. However, due to the increasing demand for water, the dam was expanded and raised to its current height of 77 meters in 1930.
The new design includes two spillways with a capacity of 600 cubic meters per second, which allows for greater control over the water levels in the reservoir.
The Construction of the Barrage de La Gileppe
The construction of the Gileppe Dam was a significant engineering feat of the 19th century. The dam was built using a combination of materials, including granite, sandstone, and limestone. The structure was anchored in the rock bed of the surrounding area and reinforced with a massive concrete core.
The design of the dam included a series of buttresses positioned along the downstream side of the dam. These buttresses counteract the forces generated by the weight of the water in the reservoir. The construction is an example of how engineering and nature can coexist in harmony.
The Role of the Barrage de La Gileppe in the Ecosystem
The reservoir is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including fish, birds, and mammals. The presence of the reservoir has helped to regulate the water levels in the surrounding areas, preventing flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.
The Gileppe Dam has also had a positive impact on the local economy. The reservoir is a popular tourist destination, and it provides a source of revenue for the surrounding towns and villages.
The Barrage de La Gileppe offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for visitors. The surrounding area is ideal for hiking and cycling, with several trails that provide stunning views of the reservoir and the surrounding forests.
For those looking for a more adrenaline-fueled experience, can find their rush at the Accropark. There are 3 adventurous rope parcours with different difficulty levels as well as a climbing wall.
The Barrage de La Gileppe is also home to a visitor center that is located in a panoramic lookout tower and provides information on the history of the dam and the surrounding area. The center features interactive exhibits, videos, and displays that showcase the engineering and natural beauty of the reservoir. There’s also a restaurant located at the top level of the panoramic lookout tower where viewers can dine whilst admiring the fantastic views.
Entrance to the panoramic tower and viewing platforms are free of charge.
The Gileppe Dam is located in Jalhay, in the province of Liège, Wallonia.
Parking is plenty available and free of charge. There are also a few dedicated parking spots for RV’s.
The Barrage de La Gileppe is a remarkable example of how engineering and nature can coexist in harmony. Its construction has not only provided a source of water for the surrounding areas but has also had a positive impact on the local ecosystem and economy. The reservoir’s stunning beauty and the range of recreational opportunities it offers make it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Belgium.
- Accropark La Gileppe: https://www.tourismejalhaysart.be/en/attraction/accropark-lac-la-gileppe-jalhay/