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Dinant: the city of the inventor of the saxophone

Dinant is a small Belgian town of about fifteen thousand inhabitants located in Wallonia in the province of Namur. The city is located 15 km from the French border and 30 km south of Namur, on the right bank of the Meuse (Meuse) river.

The first historical document that mentions Dinant dates back to the seventh century. Later a castle was erected. Then starting from the 11th century, the village, thanks to its strategic position and the construction of a stone bridge over the Meuse, developed rapidly, becoming one of the 23 “bonnes villes” (main cities) of the Bishopric of Liège.

The town became important from a commercial point of view. In fact, in the 14th century it was the main center of copper processing, specializing in the manufacture of brass objects called “dinanderies”.

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

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO SEE IN DINANT

Dinant is a city with a characteristic appearance due to its position nestled between the river and the rocky cliff (Rocher) that dominates it. Furthermore, outside the inhabited center there is the characteristic “Rocher Bayard”, a high limestone block completely isolated from the surrounding rock groups. This structure was probably formed after the explosion caused by Louis XIV’s troops to open a passage during the siege of the city in 1675.

THE COLLEGIATE

The most important monument in the city center is the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame. This church was built in the tenth century in the early Romanesque style. But then in the thirteenth century, after the collapse of part of the mountain on the church, it was rebuilt in Gothic style. The characteristic 68 meter high tower with the particular onion dome was added later. The collegiate church still conserves a portal from 1175 from the original Romanesque construction. Among the works of art present there is a baptismal font from 1472, and the large stained glass window of the transept (15th century), where biblical scenes are represented.

THE CITADEL

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

WONDERFUL CASTLES

There are numerous castles in the area. Located along the course of the Meuse, between Dinant and Hastière, there is the Castle of Freyr (Château et Jardins de Freyr) a magnificent Renaissance residence, which in the 18th century became a ducal residence. It houses wonderful gardens with orange grove, as well as 6 km of labyrinths of tree-lined avenues and a belvedere.

In Molignée, near the Abbey of Maredsous there is the 17th century castle of Ferme de Falaën (Château-Ferme de Falaën). The castle houses the Musée des Confréries Gastronomiques de Wallonie et de Bruxelles. In Celles-Houyet there is the fairytale Castle of Vêves (Château de Vêves), built by the Beaufort family between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The castle is composed of 5 magnificent towers and inside it houses 18th century furniture, porcelain and historical objects.

Another fairytale castle of medieval origin is that of Spontin (Château de Spontin). In the area there are also suggestive ruins of castles and fortifications. Among these, the ruins of Poilvache Castle are remarkable along the course of the Meuse, 5 km north of Dinant. This is one of the largest medieval castles in the area, the castle was abandoned after its destruction in 1430 and today has picturesque ruins.

Not far from Poilvache, in Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, there are the ruins of the Crévecoeur Castle, whose ruins date back to the 14th century, and offer a beautiful view of the Meuse valley. The ruins of the Château Fort de Montaigle, castle built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, they are located on a rocky outcrop at the confluence of the Molignée and the Flavion. This is one of the most impressive remains of castles in the area, it also houses an archaeological museum.

RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS

Among the religious buildings in the area just outside the town of Dinant is the Abbey of Notre Dame de Leffe. This structure was initially built in 1152. Later destroyed several times, it was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. This town is today famous for beer and other typical gastronomic products. In the suburb of Foy-Notre-Dame, there is the Church of Foy-Notre-Dame built in 1623 on the site where a statue of the Madonna was discovered in 1609, later venerated for her miracles.

A few kilometers from Dinant is the town of Hastière, where is the Church Romane Abbatiale d’Hastière, a beautiful Romanesque building, built between 1033 and 1035. Inside there are some 13th century stalls, 13th century frescoes, numerous statues and tombstones and a crypt with 11th century graffiti, Merovingian sarcophagi etc. Finally, to mention the Benedictine abbeys of Maredret (founded in 1893) and Maredsous (founded in 1872).

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

WHAT TO VISIT: MUSEUMS

In the citadel of Dinant there is the Musée d’Armes, with a collection of weapons from the 19th century and the First World War, as well as more ancient weapons. In Leffe, the suburb of Dinant is the Musée “Histoire de la Leffe”. This museum is dedicated to the history of Leffe Beer.

In Haut-le-Wastia there is the “Musée du Souvenir, Batailles de la Meuse, Mai 1940”, dedicated to the 1940 Meuse battle. A new museum in the Maison Espagnole in Bouvignes is the Maison du Patrimoine Médiéval Mosan, dedicated museum to the historical and cultural heritage of the Meuse Valley. While an interesting museum if you travel with children is the Museum of Miniature Trains (Musée du Train Miniature Haute Meuse) in the town of Agimont.

CLIMATE: WHEN TO GO

The climate of Dinant is a continental climate characterized by extreme variability and widespread rainfall all year round. Winters are moderately cold, while summers are cool.

The average minimum winter temperatures vary between -1 ° C and 1 ° C. While the average maximum 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 summer averages vary between 11 ° C and 12 ° C.

The annual average rainfall is 825 mm.

THE CLIMATE OF DINANT: CLIMATE TABLES

DINANT (107 meters)
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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