Dinant (History of a river )
The Meuse guides visitors through a land rich in heritage and history. With the advent of towns like Dinant and Bouvignes, the river becomes an area of cultural influence and a coveted region. Its slopes are dotted with magnificent outcrops, here and there revealing fortresses that impose their authority by keeping watch over the river traffic.
A - The Abbey of Notre-Dame of Leffe Voir sur la carte
A stone’s throw from Dinant, in the small Leffe valley, nestles Prémontrés Abbey. Founded in 1121, it suffered the same fate as Dinant. When the town was sacked by Charles the Bold in 1466, the abbey did not escape the pillaging and destruction. A fountain of that period still exists, from which poured forth pure water, perfect for brewing beer. The abbey rose from its ashes and brewed again. In the 20th century, Leffe Abbey bequeathed the name of its beer to a secular company.… An unusual fate for this beer which is today the world’s most widely sold abbey beer!
Place de l'Abbaye,1
Tel : 0032(0) 82 22 23 77
Web : http://www.abbaye-de-leffe.be
Meet and savour
According to fanciful legend, the Dinant ‘couque’ or biscuit dates back to the 15th century, when the town was besieged by Charles the Bold (1466). The townspeople, deprived of food and having just honey and flour, came up with the idea of making dough and cooking it. As this dough was very firm, they imprinted it in their famous ‘dinaderie’ or brassware, creating a wide variety of designs. It is more likely, however, that the couque appeared in the 18th century, although the exact circumstances of its beginnings are unknown. The couque moulds depict a range of different subjects, bearing witness to the events of the time so as to ‘fix’ the memory. The Dinant couque is made of bees’ honey and wheat flour. As for the so-called ‘Rins couque, this is made with the same ingredients, to which extra sugar is added. Its name derives from François Rins, a Dinant confectioner, who had the idea of adding sugar to the mixture of honey and flour
B - Notre-Dame Collegiate Church Voir sur la carte
Notre-Dame is one of the finest examples of 13th-century Gothic art, with its nave rising towards heaven. Destroyed when the city was sacked by Charles the Bold, it was to undergo several renovations in the following centuries.
Place Reine Astrid
Tel : 0032(0) 82 22 22 07
Web : http://www.doyennededinant.com
C - Dinant : the citadel and the arms museum Voir sur la carte
Nothing remains of the fortress built by the Prince Bishop of Liège in the 12th century. Today, the scene is dominated by the fortress designed by Vauban. A visit to the fortress will immerse you in military history, when Belgium was ruled by the Netherlands and the House of Orange. Eighty years later, the Kingdom of Belgium was to defend its territory in the trenches of the Yser, the only piece of land still unoccupied by Germany. The reconstruction of one of these trenches in the fort is full of surprises…
Place Reine Astrid,3
Tel : 0032(0) 82 22 36 70
Web : http://www.citadellededinant.be
D - Daughter of the Meuse Voir sur la carte
A daughter of the Meuse, like Liège, Dinant linked its destiny to the princely city for better or for worse… In the Middle Ages, the city was unashamedly prosperous: an annual fair was organised there, markets were set up, and brass was worked. This prosperity came to an abrupt end one day in 1466... The hereditary enemy of Liège, Charles the Bold, sacked the city. Dinant never recovered. The surviving craftspeople took refuge in Liège and in Mézières: these exiles were to contribute towards the prosperity of the French town.
Did you know?
Although the medieval city no longer exists, the chancel and transept of the Notre-Dame collegiate church bear witness to Dinant as it was at its peak. The 12th-century baptistery reveals the admirable work of the stone cutters of the time.
Did you know?
In the 15th century, Dinant’s reputation for objects made of alloys stretched beyond the borders. In the Kingdom of France, craftsmen working with leaves of copper were commonly known as “dinandiers”. The House of Medieval Heritage pays tribute to this craft industry.
E - Navigating the Meuse Voir sur la carte
In the Middle Ages, the Meuse was the safest and least costly means of transport, compared with the paths leading through the Ardennes. The riches of the towns and cities along the Meuse were exported throughout the world, carried on flat-bottomed boats with a shallow draught. These boats were designed so that they could run aground and had no need for quays and landing stages. Borne by the current, they covered over 100 kilometres a day.
Today, freight transport has given way to scores of yachts and cruisers.
F - The House of Mosan Medieval Heritage Voir sur la carte
Here, in Bouvignes, the Middle Ages can be experienced, sensed. It’s as if you can still hear the sound of the horses’ hooves on the cobble of the narrow streets leading down from the Porte Chevalier. An impression reinforced by the fortress of Crèvecoeur that casts its shadow over the House of Medieval Heritage, nestling in the centre of the city’s small square. The “Spanish House”, with its 17th-century pediments bearing Brabant-style volutes, was built during the period of Spanish domination.
This lovely museum immerses you in the course of the Meuse, its history, its work. The path of the river can be read like an open book. Where there is a ford, a bridge was built. Where a tributary runs into the river, a town was born. The silt deposited by the river provided fertile soil. The economy developed. Wealth that had to be defended, kept at all costs. So fortresses were built. Military strategy goes hand in hand with the economy. The rest of the visit is equally fascinating… And it evokes medieval society, with all its anecdotes
Place du Bailliage,16
Tel : 0032(0) 82 22 36 16
Web : http://www.mpmm.be
G - Reception and tourist information site Voir sur la carte
Maison du Tourisme de la Haute Meuse Dinantaise– www.dinant-tourisme.com
H - Dinant - Mr. Sax's Sundays Voir sur la carte
The free concerts given by Belgian bands will turn Dinant into Jazz City all summer long.
Visitors in Dinant will be able to enjoy these colourful animations around Mr. Sax's famous instrument in the heart of Dinant, along the boulevards or at the cafés.