The heights of Namur: the Citadel and its treasures

Charlotte Fivet | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Citadel of Namur, considered the biggest and oldest center of command of Europe, is a jewel of the Belgian heritage. Nowadays, it is a top place for events, guided tours and walks, with its green surroundings and the spectacular viewpoints it offers on the city. But it wasn’t always the case ...

First: a little bit of history

Perched on a triangular rock on the confluence of the Sambre and the Meuse (the Grognon), the Citadel spreads out over more than 80 hectares that were the theater of ceaseless fighting and did not stop changing hands until the independence of Belgium in 1830.

The Citadel of Namur by night. Picture©Credits to Philippe Berger

The first evidence of human camps on the site of the confluence go back to approximately 6000 BC. In the Middle Ages, it was the residence of the Counts of Namur but, desired by all for its strategic location and height, it was taken and taken again. It was successively part of the Saint Empire, under dominance of the Habsbourg, of Spain then of Austria, then under the Republic and the French Empire and finally under the United Kingdom of the Netherlands

After the independence of Belgium, the armed forces stayed on this site for a while. From 1891 on it was then partially demilitarized by King Léopold II who used it during his holidays.

The guided tours

If you want to discover the Citadel during a guided tour, you can start at the visitor center. Situated in the former barracks of Terra Nova, you will find 2000 years of urban and military history in this center that will be presented to you through the history of Namur and its citadel in a dynamic and educational way. 

You can also choose to visit it the underground way. Indeed, with more than 500 meters of underground passages, Napoleon had already nicknamed the Citadel the "termites' nest of Europe". This visit is more than a guided tour, it is a one-hour long immersive path with 3D animations, image projections and sound effects that illustrates the very rich history of this incredible place. 

Finally, for a more relaxed (and overgound) visit, you can take the little touristic train and enjoy a 20-minute commented stroll with stunning panoramic views on the 'slow city'. 

For a guided tour, it will cost you – as an adult - €6 but you can also choose to have a free-walking access to the visitor center for €4 or pick the Citadel Pass (touristic train, visit of the underground passages and visit of the visitor center) for €11. 

Of course, you can also discover the Citadel by yourself with "The Medieval" stroll leading you from the medieval ramparts to the gardens.

What else?

Apart from its historic interest, the Citadel has a lot to offer. From Easter to Mid-October, the Queen Fabiola amusement park will make the kids happy: castles, swings, cable railways, a climbing circuit, electric go-karts or with pedals, trampolines and bouncy castles but also outside table tennis, a mini golf and a barbecue spot!

If you are an art lover, you will be able to admire Jan Fabre's 'Utopia', a sculpture of a giant turtle and also visit some exhibitions at the Terra Nova visitor center. For example, from December 7 to December 16 2018, there is a contemporary art exhibition of Manu vb Tintoré.  

Jan Fabre 'Utopia'. Picture©Credits to Jmh2o

For the wine lovers, the wine cellars of Grafé Lecoq are a good pick: in these cellars, situated under the Citadel , the wine matures in oak barrels and stabilizes naturally to reveal its character. The foodies will find their happiness in the restaurants of the Citadel such as the Panoramala Reine Blanche or the Château de Namur

You can also visit the Guy Delforge perfumery, a unique center of creation that will enable you to understand the various phases of the realization of a perfume. The fragrances are born and matured in the depths of the Citadel and you will assist with "sounds, lights and fragrances" so mesmerizing that you could almost forget the outside world !

Guy Delforge Perfumery. Picture©Credits to IKvyatkovskaya

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