Does it still exist?

Does it still exist?

Erfgoed Balen invites you to a nostalgic walk through the centre of the municipality. At ErfgoedApp they developed a route full of recognisable places and interesting anecdotes about the times of yore. Curious how their initiative came about? Bram Dierckx of Erfgoed Balen tells you more about the project.

Digital heritage and care

Dierckx: "Together with the local nursing homes, Tourism Balen, VVV and Seniorenraad Balen, Erfgoed Balen developed a tour in the ErfgoedApp with multimedia information. The outdoor offer of activities for older people is not obvious and was practically non-existent in Balen. We filled this gap with a nostalgic walk, completely tailored to people with dementia. We deliberately chose the term 'nostalgic walk' as an alternative to 'dementia walk' in order to be able to offer a tour without any prejudice or connotation.

The ErfgoedApp gave the tour an extra dimension and made many authentic sources easily accessible. Images, sounds and film fragments, combined with the tour and the text, complete the picture. Walkers get a whole series of 'stimuli' and forgotten places of yesteryear are brought back to life. The tour evokes memories by means of expressive images, sounds and short films. And whoever does the tour gets a new memory in the process.

From start

The broad outlines of the project were drawn up by several partners, which created support for the project. Bram Dierckx: "The initial phase needed a lot of lead time, but once the project was underway and the objectives had been defined, the ideas took shape very quickly. The elaboration of the content and the final product were done by Erfgoed Balen in a specific working group. This made it possible to effectively continue working on a concept that had been around for a while.

Because of the intended audience, it was a conscious decision to keep the text to a minimum. Alternatively, images and film clips are given the leading role. At each point along the route, visitors are given a short introduction and an animated film with recorded commentary. In this way, visitors can look and listen ... and then bring their own memories to life. The films were deliberately recorded by 'youthful and neutral' voices. After all, previous experience has taught us that the combination and cooperation of senior citizens and young people works well.


For the tour, the archives of the archive and documentation centre were literally pulled open and many unique, never-before-seen image and film fragments came out of the cupboard.

The tour takes into account a less mobile audience along the way and is fully wheelchair accessible. Although it was initially intended to appeal especially to people with dementia, the final product is a route that will also appeal to many other visitors. The walk is suitable for anyone who wants to discover Balen-Centrum through retro glasses.


In the meantime, the various care homes and the senior citizens' council have already set up a few group walks. The reactions are very positive. There are even a few 'experts by experience' who have done the nostalgic walk several times.

Bram Dierckx: "In the future, Balen Heritage wants to make some more improvements, for example regarding the visibility of the route for the visually impaired. After all, most smartphone screens are very small. Through the Balen Leisure Centre, we are also trying to provide tablets with a mobile connection, which is necessary to be able to download the tour. These larger screens with better sound will have to contribute to an optimal experience of the route for both visually and hearing impaired people and larger groups."

Do not miss this tour:

  • The tour is completely free of charge.
  • You will pass by 'ordinary' and 'everyday' buildings and places, which are brought to life by the route in ErfgoedApp .
  • Alone or in a group, young or old, forgetful or not ... The route offers something for everyone.
  • Everyone can (re)discover something new, old or old-new along the way.
  • The videos place each point on the route in its proper historical and spatial context and are therefore a real asset of which Balen Heritage is justly proud. In this way they have really been able to lower the threshold and provide a lot of unique sources.

Fancy it?

  • Distance: 3 km
  • Duration: 1.30 hours
  • Start and finish: Vrijetijdscentrum De Kruierie, Bevrijdingsstraat 1, 2490 Balen. The walk starts on the parking in front of VC De Kruierie and the Balen Library.

Would you like more information about this walking route? Just drop by the entrance to the De Kruierie leisure centre or the Oud Gemeentehuis. You will find more information here and here.