WALLONIA - Part 2: things to see

Durbuy, Liege, Namur, Spa and Waterloo

Durbuy

Durbuy is certainly one of the major tourist attractions of Wallonia, as it is the smallest city in the world ! Every year, this charming medieval city from the 17th century attracts thousands of tourists. The town center consists of just a few streets, and the great majority of the inhabitants live in one of the many surrounding villages.

Durbuy 1 Durbuy 2

Liège

Liège (Luik) was founded in the 8th century as a principality, at the confluence of the Meuse and Ourthe rivers, and it was ruled by prince-bishops until 1795. It included most of the present province of Liège, the south of the present province of Namur, and from 1366 on also the County of Loon, which was almost all of the current province of Limburg. After 1600, Liège developed into an important Walloon center of metal and weapon industry.

The city of Liege was the most important city of the Principality, but its history is especially characterized by the countless conflicts between the city and its bishops. In 1468, the city was therefore severely punished by the Burgundian Duke Charles the Bold, and his soldiers committed heinous crimes upon the population, whereby some 5,000 civilians were killed.

Liège is also called "la cité Ardente" (the fiery city), after an adventurous novel of Carton de Wiart from 1904, which used this particular event as background. When around 1500 the Dukes of Burgundy, and later the Spanish Habsburgs, brought all of the Low Countries under their control, the Principality of Liège managed to remain independent.

In 1815 it was added to the Netherlands, but 15 years later Liège lay at the base of the revolution which led to the Belgian independence. After 1900 Liège became the center of the mining and steel industries, that brought great prosperity to Wallonia. No fewer than three world fairs were organized in 1905, 1930 and 1939. In World War I, the tenacious resistance of the Liege forts delayed the German advance, and is the first city in the world that was bombed from the air, by a German Zeppelin!

After 1950 the economic problems, resulting from the fading of the mining and steel industries, had a major impact on the entire Liege territory. The metropolis Liege with its suburbs has about 600,000 inhabitants.

Points of interest are the former prince-bishop's palace, now the City Hall, and La Montagne de Bueren (Mount Bueren), a colossal flight of steps, with 374 stairs. The St Bartolomeus church is a Romanesque collegiate church, built in the 11th and 12th centuries, which among others contains the baptismal font of Renier de Huy, one of the seven wonders of Belgium. During the most recent restoration, between 1999 and 2005, a special polychrome layer was added, based on the model of the cathedral of Limburg an der Lahn.

St Paul's Cathedral is the main cathedral of the diocese of Liege, and it was built in Gothic style between the 13th and the 15th century. It was heavily restored after it became a cathedral in 1802.

Liege : La Cité Ardente Liege : St Bartolomeus church
La Cité Ardente
St Bartolomeus church
Liege : Prince-bishop's Palace
Prince-bishop's Palace
Liege : montagne van Bueren
Liege : St Paulus cathedral
montagne van Bueren
St Paulus cathedral

Namur

Namur is located at the confluence of the rivers Sambre and Meuse, and it is the capital of the Namur province, as well as of the Walloon region.

The high rock face in the fork between the two rivers was an excellent defensive position, first for a Roman camp, later for the castle of the Dukes of Namur, and finally for a citadel in 1800.

Spa

Spa is located near Liege, and as early as in the Roman period, its mineral springs were heavily frequented. During the 18th and 19th century, Spa was very popular with wealthy families, including the royal family.

Soon it became a fairly mundane city, with an old-style casino, parks and beautiful gardens. The city of Spa also gave its name to the modern Jacuzzi. Next to the city of Spa lies the well-known Formula 1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.

Spa : city Spa-Francorchamps

Waterloo

Waterloo is the battlefield, where in 1815 the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated by the allied European forces of England, the Netherlands and Prussia. This battle ended the French domination of Europe, and indirectly gave rise to the creation of Belgium.

Since Waterloo belonged to the Netherlands, between 1823 and 1826, the new King William I built the Lion of Waterloo, a monument on the Waterloo battlefield. It took nearly 300,000 cubic meters of sand to make a hill, that was 40 meters high, and on top of the hill, a cast iron lion weighing 28 tons was placed on a pedestal of 4.5 meters. After climbing the 226 steps, visitors have a nice view over the battlefield and the surrounding communities.

Every year the Battle of Waterloo is re-enacted by actors from allover Europe, dressed in historically correct uniforms.

the Lion of Waterloo 1
Napoleon Bonaparte
   
the Lion of Waterloo 2 the Lion of Waterloo 3
   
the Lion of Waterloo 4 the Lion of Waterloo 5
   
the Lion of Waterloo 6 the Lion of Waterloo 7
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