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Things to do in Dinant



Dinant
Avenue Cadoux, 8 - 82 22 28 70
info@dinant-tourisme.be

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Dinant is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse in the Belgian province of Namur, Belgium. It is around 30 km south-east of Charleroi. The Dinant municipality includes the old communes of Anseremme, Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, Drehance, Falmagne, Falmignoul, Foy-Notre-Dame, Furfooz, Lisogne, Sorinnes, and Thynes.

The Dinant area was already populated in Neolithic, Celtic, and Roman times. The first mention of Dinant as a settlement dates from the 7th century, a time at which Saint Perpete, bishop of Tongeren, which at the time had its capital in Maastricht, took Dinant as his residence and founded the church of Saint Vincent. In 870, Charles the Bald gave part of Dinant to be administered by the Count of Namur, the other part by the bishop of Tongeren, which was by that time based in Liège.

In the 11th century, the emperor Henry IV granted several rights over Dinant to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, including market and justice rights. From that time on, the city became one of the 23 "bonnes villes" (or principal cities) of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The first stone bridge on the Meuse and major repair to the castle, which had been built earlier, also date from the end of the 11th century. Throughout this period, and until the end of the 18th century, Dinant shared its history with its overlord Liège, sometimes rising in revolt against it, sometimes partaking in its victories and defeats, mostly against the neighbouring County of Namur.

Its strategic location on the Meuse exposed Dinant to battle and pillage, not always by avowed enemies: in 1466, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, uncle of Louis de Bourbon, Prince-Bishop of Liège, and Philip's son Charles the Bold punished an uprising in Dinant during the Liège Wars, by casting 800 burghers into the Meuse and setting fire to the city. The city's economic rival was Bouvignes, downriver on the opposite shore of the Meuse.

Late Medieval Dinant and Bouvignes specialised in metalwork, producing finely cast and finished objects in a silvery brass alloy, called dinanderie and supplying aquamaniles, candlesticks, patens and other altar furniture throughout the Meuse valley (giving these objects their cautious designation "Mosan"), the Rhineland and beyond.

In the 16th- and 17th-century wars between France and Spain, Dinant suffered destruction, famine and epidemics, despite its neutrality. In 1675, the French army under Marshal Francois de Crequy occupied the city. Dinant was briefly taken by the Austrians at the end of the 18th century. The whole Bishopric of Liège was ceded to France in 1795. The dinanderies fell out of fashion and the economy of the city now rested on leather tanning and the manufacture of playing cards. The famous couques de Dinant also appeared at that time.

The city suffered devastation again at the beginning of the First World War. On 23 August, 674 inhabitants were summarily executed by Saxon troops of the German Army - the biggest massacre committed by the Germans in 1914. Within a month, some five thousand Belgian and French civilians were killed by the Germans at numerous similar occasions. Among the wounded was Lieut. Charles de Gaulle.

The city's landmark is the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame. It was rebuilt in Gothic style on its old foundations after falling rocks from the adjacent cliff partially destroyed the former Romanesque style church in 1227. Several stages for a pair of towers on the west end were completed before the project was abandoned in favour of the present central tower with a famous onion dome and facetted multi-staged lantern.

Above the church rises the vertical flank of the rocher surmounted by the fortified Citadel that was first built in the 11th century to control the Meuse valley. The Prince-Bishops of Liège rebuilt and enlarged it in 1530; the French destroyed it in 1703. Its present aspect, with the rock-hewn stairs (408 steps), is due to rebuilding in 1821, during the United Kingdom of the Netherlands phase of Dinant's chequered history. A cable car is available during the high season to take visitors from the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame to the top of the Citadel.

Apart from the main block is the Rocher Bayard that was said to have been split by giant hoof of Bayard, the giant horse carrying the four sons of Aymon on their legendary flight from Charlemagne through the Ardennes, told in Les Quatre Fils Aymon, a famous 12th-century chanson de geste.

The house of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone located in the street of the same name.


Leon Edgar Books