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Namur sits in the municipality of Wallonia in Southern Belgium, it is the capital of the province of Namur and Wallonia and is situated where the Sambre and Meuse rivers meet. Only a short forty minutes from Brussels and just two hours from Calais, the city is attracting increasing attention in its own right rather than just as a gateway to the Ardennes.
Over the centuries Namur has held the attention of many military mights all trying to control the important strategic position and as such has suffered many invasions. Today the main attractions of this picturesque city bear witness to this history and along with the towns main squares and cobbled streets, there is many a story to be told.
The history of Namur
In Celtic times, Namur was originally a trading settlement as the perfect location for east-west and north-south routes across the Ardennes. Julius Caesar defeated the Aduatuci tribe and established a Roman presence in the city. Then in the middle ages the Merovingians built the fist citadel overlooking the town. The Counts of Namur developed the north bank of the Meuse but the south bank, controlled by the Bishops of Liege, was not so fast to evolve. In 1262 the Count of Flanders took control of Namur and in 1421 sold it to the Duke of Burgundy.
In 1640 the city became part of Spanish Netherlands but in 1692 Louis XIV of France invaded and linked the city to France. In 1709 the Dutch gained control although the subsequent Treaty of Utrecht handed it to the Austrian House of Hasburg. France invaded in 1794 during the Revolutionary Wars and declared Namur its own, however after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 the whole of Belgium was incorporated into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was in 1830 during the Belgium Revolution that finally the country was able to break away on their own.
Namur was a huge attraction to the Germans in 1914 who were looking to use the Leuse valley as a route into France. It was occupied for most of the war and it faired little better in the Second World War as it sat on the front line for both the Battle of the Ardennes in 1940 and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
The economy of the city still relies heavily on the trade industry and includes the production of machinery, leather and porcelain. There is also a fantastic university that has a superb reputation, the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix (FUNDP). As a tourist centre, Namur is increasing in popularity, with a large number of visitors to the region choosing to stay in the city rather than simply pass through on route to the Ardennes. The symbol of the city is the snail, so be prepared for a relaxing trip where nothing and no-one is rushed.