Cycle route along the Acht Zaligheden (Eight Salvations)
Reusel, Eersel, Knegsel
Eight 'Zalighden' (Salvations) (formerly known as Selligheden) is the nickname for eight Brabant villages in the De Kempen region. It concerns the villages Duizel (formerly Duijsel), Eersel, Hulsel, Knegsel, Netersel, Reusel, Steensel and Wintelre (originally Wintersel). Originally, the village names all ended in -sel.
The name for the eight villages came into being during the Belgian Revolution in 1830. In order to fight the Belgian rebels, Dutch soldiers were sent to De Kempen. They were mainly stationed in the sel-villages. The inhabitants of the sel-villages were very poor at the time; there was no industry in this region and the infertile soil made cultivating crops very difficult. For the Dutch soldiers, who themselves came mainly from wealthier areas above the rivers, this was a huge contrast. The locals did not know about the prosperity elsewhere in the country and were content with their 'blissful' lives. They were intelligent, vital, proud of their countryside and loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. That is why the military called the villages the 'Eight Salvations'.
The Eight Beatitudes is also a reference to the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus of Nazareth, as written in the Bible book Matthew. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about eight beatitudes: states of mind in which a person can find himself and why they will ultimately benefit him. You can read more about this at the monument the Stones of Beatitudes.
The local population embraced the mockery as a nickname. In the following years, the villages gradually became more prosperous. Due to the introduction of artificial fertiliser, the reclamation of the heathlands, the rise of the cigar industry and the construction of the Eindhoven-Reusel tram line, among other things, the region developed more and more. Hospitality and tourism were also discovered. Eventually, the 'Eight Salvations' became a name of honour, and rightly so!
The picturesque villages have a friendly atmosphere. Between the villages, you cycle through picturesque heathland and nature reserves. The population is still content and lives according to a burgundian lifestyle. And that is the atmosphere you will taste during this cycle tour!
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