Namur, gateway to the Ardennes
The political capital of the Belgian Region of Wallonia, the city of Namur has gradually spread beyond the walls of its imposing citadel fortress over the centuries to become a place full of interesting things to see and do, a great combination of history, culture, leisure and the countryside.
A very tourist-friendly city
The Namur-born Belgian film star Benoît Poelvoorde once said “Don’t tell people how well we live here, or everyone will want to move here. I was born here and I’ll die here!” Come for a visit and see if you agree with him!
Namur’s role in history was assured by its huge citadel fortress on the strategic heights overlooking the confluence of the Rivers Meuse and Sambre: whoever controlled it controlled local traffic on both rivers and in the surrounding area. The city was besieged and occupied many times by the armies of different European powers. Today, it has expanded beyond the citadel’s walls and, since 1985, has been the seat of the Parliament of the Walloon Region. It has retained many of its historic buildings alongside some dramatic modern additions and its city centre is mostly pedestrianised, making it very tourist-friendly.
La dolce-vita made in Ardennes...
The Belgian “Dolce Vita”
Although Namur has many historic buildings, museums and cultural events and places, they have not gone to its head, nor made it stuck in the past. Its position at the gateway to the Ardennes, means that Namur and its surroundings enjoy all the rich colours and flavours of that region.
If Liège is where people go to celebrate, Namur is where they come to slow down and enjoy the good things of life, the Belgian “Dolce Vita” if you like: walking or canoeing in the lush countryside, sipping a coffee on a sunny café terrace or just strolling through the pleasant streets along the river banks.
Tourist sights include over 100km of cycle routes and footpaths, the citadel, boat trips on the rivers, churches in a variety of architectural styles, street art and many art galleries and museums. If this has tempted you to visit, grab your guide book, you’ll have plenty to see and do!
A colourful festival
The third weekend of September is when Namur lets its hair down. Officially, its five-day festival commemorates the Walloons who fought in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, and events include a “battle” of knights in period costume on stilts, processions in traditional costume and concerts, all washed down with glasses of beer and pékèt, the local gin. The friendly locals are joined by crowds of tourists to enjoy the atmosphere and to learn more about the city’s history and traditions.