Braine-l'Alleud (Dutch: Eigenbrakel) is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant, about 20 kilometers south of Brussels. The Braine-l'Alleud municipality includes the former municipalities of Braine-l'Alleud proper, Ophain-Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, and Lillois-Witterzée. It also includes the hamlet of Sart-Moulin, the inverted name of which inspired Hergé’s Moulinsart castle. The famous Lion of Waterloo is actually located on the territory of Braine-l'Alleud. Bordering Flanders, the town is home to a minority of Dutch-speakers.
Several archaeological finds point to prehistoric settlements in this area. The first historical mention of a parish on Braine-l'Alleud's current territory, then called Dudinsart, dates from 1131, date at which Godfrey I, Duke of Brabant ceded it to the Abbey of Gembloux. The Duke, however, still owned exempt land (or franchise) on this territory, as specified in a legal document by Henry I dated 1197. The name of the municipality changed to the current one, derived from “Braine”, former name of the stream that crosses its territory (now called the “Hain”), and “alleu”, a medieval French word designating exempt land. The latter name was added to the former to distinguish this community from two neighbouring ones also called Braine.
At the beginning, the franchise might not have been much more than a right to local administration. By 1489, however, the local lord enjoyed complete juridical power on its territory, which was still formally part of the fiefdom obtained from the Duke of Brabant.
Battle of Waterloo
- The Butte du Lion, erected on the famous Battle of Waterloo, attracts thousands of visitors every year. A nearby visitor centre, a wax museum and a painted panorama also help retrace the events that led to Napoleon’s defeat in 1815.
- Converted into a tourist information centre, the former house of Cardinal Mercier is a good starting point to explore the town.
- Braine-l'Alleud is also home to a (slightly) smaller version of the well-known Manneken Pis, with the name "Il Gamin Quipiche" (the peeing kid).
Church of Saint-Etienne
View of the town from the west
Braine l'Alleud is home to RCS Braine football club. One of the best clubs in the region for training youngsters. Notably, this was the first club of Belgium and Chelsea star Eden Hazard.
- Both Ophain and Braine-l'Alleud host yearly carnivals featuring giant puppets like in most other Belgian towns.
- Désiré-Joseph Mercier, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and national hero (1851–1926)
- Paul-Henri Spaak, politician and statesman (1899–1972)
- Gaston Reiff, track-and-field athlete (1921–1992)
- Population per municipality on 1 January 2011 (XLS; 322 KB)