Namur was settled by the Celts, who were replaced by the Romans. The Merovigians (550-750 CE) built the citadel, much strengthened and expanded over time by the Spanish and later Napoleon. The Germans attacked early in WWI to use the Meuse River as a path into nearby France. It is now the capitol of the region. Located on a narrow strip along the Meuse, the majority of the town, significantly the old town sits more broadly along and setback from the Sambre River. The old town is full of medieval charm and, of course, lots of bars and restaurants, well populated with beer sipping locals chatting the hours away.
Namur is on an important railway junction as well as being at the junction of two rivers, each of which supports a fair amount of barge traffic. In addition we saw several day trip cruise trips. The University of Namur (1831) and the University of Louvain are here, both well respected institutions.
Dinant is much smaller and its downtown less charming than Namur’s, but there are fabulous views from our mooring, along the main part of the town, and from the citadel. The citadel offers a much more interesting visit compared to Namur’s, aside from the ride up, which is more dramatic in Namur. The Dinant visit takes you deep in the mountain, passing through a tilted corridor with a fun house feel to it- the sloping path makes you a bit dizzy. The main part of the town is only a few streets wide and not as charming as Namur. The Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant has a Norman facade on the north side, which dates it a 1000 years back, its carvings badly worn by the ravages of Belgian rain, but still it’s a trip back in time. Rocks heavily damaged the Romanesque structure in 1227. It was then rebuilt in the Gothic style.
Dinant shows traces of settlement dating to paleolithic times. Celtic tribes lived there, and of course the Romans. The St Vincent church was built in 870. There was heavy fighting in WWI during which DeGaulle was wounded. We ran across the statue honoring him. I’d forgotten how old he was as President of France in the 60’s.