An hour out of the main hub of Belgium’s capital Brussels, and you are in the stunning countryside of Wallonia. It’s a region rich in architecture and patriotic people and offers two interesting cities. Two contrasting places, the citadel dominated city of Namur and the shabby, but chic Liège are at the heart of this fascinating area.
Stroll around Namur, the capital of Wallonia
The capital of Wallonia, Namur, with winding streets and impressive architecture including the stunning 18th century cathedral dedicated to St Aubain, is a great place to wander round. You will find it located on the junction of the Sambre and Meuse rivers surrounded by a vast citadel, once one of Europe’s fiercest fortresses.
There an incredible golden turtle that sits at the top of the entrance. It’s purpose is to serve as a symbol of Namur’s dedication to the slow pace of life.
The city has some odd customs too including the Fight of the Golden Stilt held on the third Sunday in September where two teams dress in medieval teams while standing on stilts and do battle in the town’s main square.
Fascinating underground tunnels can be explored and are brought to life with digitally enhanced soldiers who tell of the fortress, which dates right back to the Celts and Romans. The story includes a period of devastation.
The tunnels played an important part in Namur and are put to good use in modern times with enterprising businesses such as a perfume that takes advantage of the near perfect conditions to produce a sweet scent.
City of Liège
Also running along the Meuse River is the strangely attractive city of Liège. First impressions are that it is a bit drab, but as you begin to explore, it unravels into a place of many talents.
You could start with A climb up the 374 steps of Montagne de Bueren, one of the world’s extreme staircases will have you admiring the views of the city and the nearby trendy neighbourhoods full of people who just want to party.
The modern and iconic Liège-Gullemins railway station is worth some attention. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava with bold bird like sweeping curves covered in glass and concrete. A massive Rubik Cube hangs delicately from the roof. Stand at platform you can see the impressive 118m sail-shaped skyscraper.
Also check out the 16th century Grand Curtius museum standing majestically in a former arms dealer’s mansion warehouse is painted an eye catching ox-blood colour.
For a chance to rub shoulders the locals don’t miss Belgium’s oldest and largest market. It is held every Sunday at La Battle and has every nick nack you can imagine on sale along with the traditional foods and drinks.
June to September is festival time in Namur, with one of the most popular held at the seat of liars. During the festival people are asked to sit in the seat, tell a story and the audience has to guess whether it is true or not.