On the banks of the River Meuse, in the province of Namur, is situated the most beautiful jewel of Belgium – the marvelous town of Dinant. If you fancy the quietness of mother nature, impressive history, or a relaxing sailing on a boat, then you would definitely enjoy Dinant. The beauty of the scenery of the region is breathtaking but, undoubtedly, the biggest attraction for every passionate explorer remains 'The Citadel of Dinant – the Pearl of the Meuse Valley.'
Perched on a dark outcrop, the fortified citadel is proudly looking over Dinant. You could reach it by the 408 stone steps or by the cable car. I would recommend you to use the steps in one direction, and the cable car in the other. This is how you could fully enjoy the view but also get a feel of the life of the people who inhabit the pretty little houses all over the high and steep hill. That is right; people are living there, using the cable car or the stairs every day. You may get the feeling that you have almost become a halfling, one of the characters of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel – “Lord of the Rings,” who lives in Hobbiton.
Once you reach the top, stop for a moment, take a deep breath of the fresh air and take as many photos as you can of the spectacular panorama that will be revealed before your eyes.
Grab a cup of coffee in the cafeteria, while enjoying the statues in its garden. And if you are with children, an attractive, mind-bending playground is at their disposal.
In the 11th century, the current citadel was a castle, built by the prince-bishop of Liège. It was the first castle in the area, established in this place of strategic importance. In 1466, the castle, together with the town, were burned down and destroyed. The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century by the then prince-bishop of Liège. At the beginning of the 19th century, the area was under the rule of the Dutch. They wanted to fortify their new territories and the construction of the citadel was part of the plan. The construction follows the natural form of the rock formation and gives the citadel a shape of a horseshoe.
The Citadel of Dinant witnessed many battles, but it remains strong and stable until today, ready to welcome thousands of tourists every year. A walk throughout the number of rooms will transport you back to the past, and you will discover what the daily life of the Dutch garrison used to be like. A kitchen and a bakery, a forge, prison cells, and a dormitory are arranged as they used to be during the First World War. You will have the chance to put on the real overcoat and the shoes of a soldier of that time. If you dare, visit the room with the guillotine and the “fathermurdertable”- a table, where the convict lays down his guilty hand to be chopped off, before being sent to the guillotine.
In the Weapon museum and in the patio, an impressive collection of rifles, machine guns, flamethrowers and mortars will keep you going with more.
Every year, the citadel hosts temporary exhibitions, like one of adorable sand figures of Disney characters.
Without a question, the cathedral Notre Dame de Dinant will leave you speechless and breathless. It is a 13th century Gothic cathedral with a remarkable façade and the largest stained glass in Europe.
Adolphe Sax, the creator of the saxophone, who was born in Dinant, was honored with a permanent urban exhibition called “Art on Sax”. 28 three-meter-high saxophones with creative and unique designs are scattered throughout the city, with some of them situated on the Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge – you cannot really miss them! And that is not everything. There is a little museum, dedicated to the great musician – Mr. Sax’s House, and a beautiful building that hosts the International Adolphe Sax Association. The goal of the Association is to support and coordinate projects inspired by the emblematic figure of Adolphe Sax.
A geological wonder, known as the Caves “La Merveilleuse” is a mandatory stop for every visitor to Dinant. The caves, located only 10 minutes from the city center, are famous for their variably-shaped, primeval stalactites and stalagmites.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Dinant, with its atmosphere and landmarks, is one of the most beautiful towns in Belgium and perhaps in Europe. But what has made it really attractive to thousands of tourists for decades is the perfectly preserved, authentic Citadel of Dinant – the Pearl of the Meuse Valley.
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