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Dinant, Belgium. Author Marc Ryckaert. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Dinant, Belgium. Author Marc Ryckaert

Dinant: the city of the inventor of the saxophone

Dinant (about 14,000 inhabitants), is a small town of Wallonia in the province of Namur, located 15 km from the border with France and 30 km south of Namur, on the right bank of the Maas (Meuse).

The first historical document that mentions Dinant goes back to the seventh century, following a castle was built, and from 11th century, the village, thanks to its strategic position and to build a stone bridge on the Meuse, had a rapid development, becoming one of 23 “bonnes villes” (major cities) of the diocese of Liège.

The town became important from a commercial point of view and in the fourteenth century was the largest center of processing of copper, specializing in the manufacture of objects of brass called “dinanderies.”

Today the city of Dinant is a popular tourist center, one of the most important tourist destinations of the Ardennes. At Dinant, in 1814, was born Adolphe Sax, a manufacturer of musical instruments and inventor of the saxophone.

Dinant tourist attractions: what to see in Dinant

The appearance of the city is characteristic for its position between the river and the rocky cliff (Rocher) that dominates, also outside the town is the characteristic “Rocher Bayard,” a high limestone block completely isolated from the surrounding rock groups, probably formed after the explosion caused by the troops of Louis XIV to open a passage during the siege of the city in 1675.

The most important monument in the city centre is the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, built, in a first time, in the Romanesque style in the tenth century, it was rebuilt in the thirteenth century in Gothic, after the collapse of the mountain on the church. Following was added the 68 meters high tower with the particular onion dome.

The collegiate preserves of the original Romanesque building a portal of 1175, including works of art as a baptismal font of 1472, and the great stained glass window of the transept (15th century), where are represented biblical scenes.

On the cliff (Rocher), 100 meters high above the city, is the citadel (Citadelle de Dinant), built in the 11th century, it controlled the passage of goods in the Meuse valley, rebuilt and enlarged in 1530 by the Bishops of Liege, it was destroyed by French troops in 1703. The fortress that received the current aspect after its reconstruction by the Dutch in 1818-1821, is now home to an interesting historical museum.

Dinant, Belgium. Author Marc Ryckaert. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Dinant, Belgium. Author Marc Ryckaert

There are many castles in the area: located along the course of the Meuse, between Dinant and Hastière, the Castle and Gardens of Freyr (Château et Jardins de Freyr) magnificent Renaissance residence, which in the eighteenth century became ducal home, it houses beautiful gardens with orange groves, 6 km of mazes of tree-lined avenues and a lookout.

In Molignée close to Maredsous Abbey is the castle of the seventeenth century of Ferme de Falaën (Chateau-Ferme de Falaën), the castle houses the Musée des Confréries Gastronomiques de Wallonie et de Bruxelles. In Celles-Houyet is the fairy castle Vêves (Château de Vêves), built by the family Beaufort between the thirteenth and fifteenth century, the castle is composed of 5 magnificent towers and inside houses eighteenth century furniture, porcelain and historic objects. Another fairy castle of medieval origin, is in Spontin (Château de Spontin).

In the area there are also evocative ruins of castles and fortifications, among these are considerable: along the course of the Meuse, 5 km north of Dinant, are the ruins of Castle Poilvache, one of the largest medieval castles in the area, the castle was abandoned after its distruption in 1430 and today has picturesque ruins. Not far from Poilvache, in Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, are the ruins of Castle Crévecoeur, whose ruins date back to the fourteenth century, and offer a nice point of view of the valley of the Meuse. The ruins of Château Fort de Montaigle, castle built between the thirteenth and sixteenth century, is located on a rocky spur at the confluence of Molignée and Flavion, is one of the most evocative ruins of castles in the area, it also houses an archaeological museum.

Among other religious buildings in the area: just outside the town of Dinant is the Abbey of Notre Dame de Leffe, originally built in 1152, destroyed several times, it was rebuilt over the centuries 17th and 18th, today is famous for beer and other typical delicacies. In the suburb of Foy-Notre-Dame, there is the Church of Foy-Notre-Dame built in 1623 at the place where it was discovered in 1609, a statue of Our Lady, venerated as a result, for his miracles. A few kilometers from Dinant is the town of Hastière, where is the Church of Romane Abbatiale d’Hastière, beautiful Romanesque building, built between 1033 and 1035, in its interior stalls of the thirteenth century, frescoes of the thirteenth century, numerous statues and tombstones and a crypt with 11th century graffiti, Merovingian sarcophagi etc.. Finally is the Benedictine abbeys Maredret (founded in 1893) and Maredsous (founded in 1872).

From Dinant can also make trips by boat on the Meuse or by boat along the Lesse and excursions to scenic chairlift to the Montfort Tower.

WHAT TO VISIT: DINANT MUSEUMS

In the Cittadelle of Dinant is the Musée d’Armes, with a collection of weapons of the nineteenth century and the first world war, as well as oldest weapons. In Leffe, suburb of Dinant is the Musée “Histoire de la Leffe” dedicated to the history of Leffe Beer.

In Haut-le-Wastia is the “Musée du Souvenir, Batailles de la Meuse, Mai 1940”, dedicated to the battle of the Meuse 1940. A new museum, in the Maison Espagnole in Bouvignes is the Maison du Patrimoine Médiéval Mosan, museum dedicated to historical and cultural heritage of the Valley of the Meuse.

Other museums are: Musée du Bois et de la Vie Rurale. Musée des Confréries Gastronomiques-Chateau-Ferme de Falaën. Musée des Archéologique ruines de Montaigle. Musée des Crêtes Sauvages. Musée du Train Miniatures (Museum of trains in miniature). Gambrinus drivers museum (dedicated to trucks of Brasserie). Musée du Vieil Outil. Museum of Enlightenment of Bouvignes.

Dinant, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Dinant, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

CLIMATE: WHEN TO GO TO DINANT

The climate of Dinant is a continental climate, with extreme variability and widespread rainfall in all months of the year, with moderately cold winters and cool summers.

The average minimum winter temperatures vary between -1°C and 1°C, the maximum average winter temperatures vary between 5°C and 6°C.

In summer, the maximum average temperatures vary between 22°C and 19°C, while the minimum average summer temperatures vary between 11°C and 12°C. The average annual precipitation is 825 mm.

DINANT CLIMATE TABLES

DINANT (107 metres)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Precip. (mm) Precip. days
January -1 5 66
February 0 6 53
March 2 9 74
April 4 12 58
May 8 17 71
June 11 19 79
July 12 22 76
August 12 22 64
September 10 19 58
October 7 14 71
November 3 9 79
December 1 6 76
YEAR 825
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