Caesar's Tree – Lo-Reninge, Belgium - Atlas Obscura

Caesar's Tree

A taxus-tree to which Julius Caesar reputedly tied his horse. 


In the centre of Lo, formerly one of the smallest cities of Belgium, now part of Lo-Reninge, stands the West Gate, as sole remainder of the mediaeval fortifications. Besides this gate stands a tree, which legend says, is much older still.

The still growing taxus tree is nowadays supported by iron bars, and by masonry in its hollow trunk. While the true age of the tree is a subject for debate among dendrologists, everyone knows the story, of how, on his way to Britain, Caesar is said to have stopped here to have a drink, and tied his horse to this very tree.

The tree has a circumference just shy of 3 meters, or approximately 10 feet. It’s age is very difficult to determine, though most doubt it to be 2000 years. Due to the hollowing of the trunk, by no means uncommon with this kind of tree, there is no easy way to determine the age more closely, circumference being but a hazy guide at best.

Unlikely though the story might seem, it is not entirely unprobable, as the city is crossed by what once was the Roman highway between Cassel and Ruddervoorde. Later ages have also left their marks, as is evidenced by the Gate next to the tree, being one of the sole surviving mediaeval gatehouses in the region, built somewhere around 1250.

The church is worth a visit as well, originating in 1120, though largely rebuilt as a consequence of bombing during WWI. Inside, there are 17th century wood carvings. The city hall and belfort are UNESCO world heritage.

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July 7, 2010

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