My favorite Belgian is Baron Herman Baltia
At 694m, Signal de Botrange is the highest of the notional “3 peaks of Benelux”.
It is part of the High Fens (Fr: Hautes Fagnes, Du: Hoge Venen) and gets quite a bit of snow in the winter – enough for there to be pistes for cross-country skiing.
It’s a plateau with a cafe and a car park, and until recently was the site for a meteorological station. The highest point is marked by the Baltia Tower, a six metre high staircase to nowhere added by enterprising Belgians between hosting world wars (in 1923) purely to round it up to 700m.
The tower is named after Baron Herman Baltia, a Belgian military officer and politician, who is known for (among other things) organising art exhibitions on the Yser front in 1916.
Baron Herman Baltia in 1922
How many times have you played the “name five famous Belgians” game at dinner parties? Dozens, I bet. But if displaying his watercolours to mangled World War One troops in the trenches and building six-metre staircase monuments to round-numbered metric altitudes was a measure of this man’s priorities, then I think we should all install Baron Baltia as our favourite Belgian.
At the top of this staircase, there is a modest plinth honouring Albert, then King of Belgium, and the platform you stand on is engraved with the “ALTITUDE 700.00″