The citadel of Dinant that watches over this city of brassware has withstood the test of time with panache. It also offers exceptional views of the town. You can reach it via a challenging cliffside climb, up 408 steps, or take the cable car that seems to skim the rocks. Either way, you're in for a memorable trip.
Dinant citadel is a major tourist spot in the Ardennes. Above all, it is famous for its wealth of history. The citadel offers a journey back in time, revisiting the history of Dinant and, in particular, the atrocities that took place here.
One of the most beautiful views over the Meuse valley
First in 1466, when the town was completely ransacked by Charles the Bold. The relentlessness and ferocity of the violence were reminiscent of the destruction of ancient Carthage. 800 inhabitants of Dinant were tied together two-by-two and thrown into the Meuse. The land was sprinkled with salt and iron, never to be fertile again. The following centuries were witness to a constant cycle of destruction and reconstruction. Vauban contributed to the town's fortification.
A recent "14 Centre" devoted to World War One tells the story of the town's second ransacking which cost the lives of 674 civilians on 23 August 1914. Even today, the citadel's unshakeable corridors carry you back to the day-to-day life of the Dutch garrison and that of the French soldiers in the trenches, not forgetting the prisons. Adrenalin guaranteed!
Charlemont FORT IN Givet
Charlemont fort has watched tranquilly over the town of Givet since 1555. The surroundings are lit up at night, giving the upper part of the town by the Meuse an overall surrealistic look. The natural corridor created by the Meuse valley meant Givet played an important role during the 16th century. That is when Charles Quint saw the necessity to build a citadel and a whole defence network at this strategic site.
A practically impenetrable citadel!
The truly untouchable stronghold of Charlemont fort continuously stood up to pressure from its successive enemies until the night of 31 August in 1914, when the Germans entered it.
Nowadays, the fort is visited only by small groups departing from Givet tourist office. The tour offers visitors a beautiful view over the town and a walk along the ramparts of this iconic site, accompanied by an audioguide, available in 3 languages.
The citadel's development has focused on its history, its environment and its landscaping. Biodiversity enthusiasts will not be disappointed! There is now no military presence at Charlemont fort. Instead, the site is populated with wall lizards and European adders, as well as a host of rare insect species. Enjoy hiking amid rocks for a perfect blend of ecotourism and history.
It cannot be missed, standing by the River Meuse, facing south in an ultimate affront on France. The fort of Huy has been an integral part of the town since the early 19th century, mainly due to fears of a French invasion. Although the French army never reached its gates, it was occupied by German soldiers during both world wars. First, the German troops used it as a disciplinary camp from 1914 to 1918. Then, during the second world war it became a prison for Belgian, French and English soldiers.
An emotional tour
The tour brings back all the emotion of solitary confinement, interrogations and other military prison practices. Daily life under the occupation is explained in detail. The site's unfortunate history may be oppressive, but the exceptional panoramic view over the town of Huy provides a few moments of pleasant contrast. At any time of year, you can walk from Chaussée Napoléon all the way round the fort in about thirty minutes. Good walking shoes are recommended, as well as a reasonable level of fitness!
Chemin du Comte Bazin 4500 Huy, Belgium
Tel.: +32 (0) 85/ 21 53 34
THE citadel SLOPES IN Liège
Summer or winter, you can enjoy an amazing walk on the slopes of the citadel in Liège. In its authentic natural setting at the heart of the town, the ancient citadel invites visitors and locals to daydream and enjoy a quiet rest far from the hustle and bustle of the city. This site has fully earned its 3 stars awarded by the Michelin Green Guide.
The site is a succession of overlaid terraces, where young people gather in summer for outdoor drinks, where lovers meet and families walk together. A constant toing and froing that fortunately does little to spoil the unique atmosphere.
A whole maze of gardens for a romantic escapade or a meeting with friends
The slopes of the citadel are also the perfect place to take photos of Liège from up high. The plunging view over the Meuse valley offers an unrivalled spectacle over the rooftops.
While the remains of the 18th-century wall are still visible, the citadel itself no longer exists. But the site does offer a 6-hectare natural setting dotted with listed sites, including the photogenic steps of the Bueren mount. Climbing the 300 monumental steps is quite a challenge! Or if you prefer, a maze of streets between the ramparts will take you through some smaller gardens to the terraces and, why not, to a brewery. Allow your sense of direction free rein because here, getting lost is the best way to explore!
Montagne de Bueren, 4000 Liège, Belgium