Namur Citadel (Wallonia - Belgium)

The first things about Namur is ofcourse the citadel. It looks majestic and is visible from the railway station itself! There is a motorable road, a ramp-access as well as staircase to reach atop the citadel. We took the staircase. Exploring the citadelle itself is free for all and we spent almost the entire day here. Walking up the staircase to reach the Terra Nova Visitor's centre (ticketing counter for the tours), takes its own sweet time!!!

The entire citadel is in 3 sections - Chateau des Comptes (Castle of the Count), Mediane (Medieval era) and Terra Nova (New Land). This land, the hill on which the castle sits, has been in occupation, on & off, since prehistoric era. Since its located at the conjunction of Meuse and Sambre, it was a strategic position that made a lot of defense sense and has been used for military purposes since 3rd C CE. 

During the middle ages (13th C CE), the first castle and fortification wall appeared here which is now called the Chateau des Comptes. This castle had 4 towers and housed several things including a dungeon, falconry, bakery, stables etc. In 1519 CE, due to the conflict with France, the citadel was expanded which is now the Mediane! This gave birth to the beginning of casemates and trenches. Later in 1631-75, the Terra Nova expansion happened when the entire labyrinth of complicated tunnels and casemates were created. By 1830 the military constructions of the citadel stopped and it was then used by the city for various uses, obviously till the World Wars, when again it was used for military purposes. After the war, since 1977, it is now, a peaceful, gorgeous place overlooking the Sambre & Meuse, where cultural events happen time & again.

While exploring the citadelle is free for all, the fascinating thing here is the guided tour (ticketed) of the underground tunnel system! The original underground passages were about 7km, of which about 4km is now restored. The guided tour covers about 500m of the passage! Remember Vauban who was one of the masterminds in creating the Luxembourg City fortifications? Well, he did a part of the passages here too! Its so complicated that Napoleon Bonaparte called it the 'Termite Mound of Europe'!!!

With interesting lit-up sculptures (that reminded me of London Lumiere sculptures), projected videos inside the cave walls it was really interesting. There were 3 water sources in this citadel, one of which was a well and today its covered with glass and you can stand on top of it. Its inside the Terra Nova Visitor's Centre! This is where the underground tour begins. Similar to Grotte de Han, the temperature inside is constant at about 13°C. 

During the world wars, this place was extensively used. Terra Nova visitor's centre was then used as soldiers barracks. Many places of the inner passages was sprayed with concrete to protect it more from bomb impact. Efforts were made to introduce a air filtration system here but unfortunately it never took shape. A copy of the prototype that was built then is now in display inside the tunnel. The top part that's visible above the land is located opposite to Terra Nova, and that's where the tour ends.
After the visit of the underground tour, it is possible to explore the rest of the citadel by a cute looking touristic train, with a live commentary. We chose to walk and explore instead. A walk, upward from the Terra Nova takes you to the Theatre which was under renovation when we went! The view from up here is exquisite though!

A short walk downwards, towards the Mediane region, brings you to the Guy Delforge Perfumery. Around here is the medieval garden as well, which we unfortunately skipped due to lack of time. Walking down further, in the Chateau des Comtes region is the giant turtle sculpture by Jan Fabre! There are 3 restaurants in within in the citadelle. Two of those are Made in Namur - at the Terra Nova Visitor's Centre & La Reine Blanche, which are more like salad, sandwich, beer, juice place. Another is Chateau de Namur - a 4 star gastronomical restaurant, located atop the citadel, near the Theatre & Parking.


P.S: Click here to know what I wore in Namur

To Stay:
Hotels at all price points are available in Namur.
Check out my review of the historic hotel, Hotel Les Tanneurs

To Get There:
On Google Maps: Terra Nova Visitor's Centre  - Walkable from Namur Railway station. 

Entrance Tickets & Timings:
€13 for Citadelle Pass (underground tour, tourist train & terra nova centre)
Only Underground tour: €8; Only Tourist train: €6
Terra Nova Centre entry free for Museumpassmusees holders.
Gates of the staircase/ramp - 8:00AM to 5:00/8:00PM in winters & summers respectively.
Touristic train departs from Terra Nova every hour from 10:30AM till 4:30 or 5:30 in winters & summers respectively.
Underground Tour in English: Apr-Sept: 4PM in weekdays & 10:30, 11:00, 12:00 & 4:30PM (There are no English tours in Oct-Mar). Refer to their website for French & Dutch tour timings.

P.S: I was invited by Wallonia Tourism to experience the region for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

13 comments:

  1. The citadel is beautiful! I love exploring medieval structures. It's amazing that it is free to explore AND you can take a guided tour of the tunnels! It seems they would indeed be very useful in the world wars. The views from the citadel are beautiful. I especially like the photo you took on the bridge toward the Mediane region. I would love to explore here one day!

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  2. I love exploring castles and medieval fortresses. They make me feel like I'm a time-traveler. And especially with that interesting lit-up sculpture thing! So cool! I love that there is an option for a tourist train with live commentary for those of us who might need a break from exploring! Ha!

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  3. That's really nice that the Namur Citadel is free! The guided tour of the underground tunnels sounds really cool. Maybe a bit scary too! Interesting that the place was used in WWII. I bit there is a lot of history there to discover.

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  4. Namur Citadel in Belgium has interesting history and it is good that it has free entry. Sometimes people miss such sites due to lot of entrance fee. I and intrigued by Underground passage as it looks very long and deep. I would definitely take guided tour here. Also standing on glass top with those wells underground is scary. It is good that there are three restaurants near Citadel.

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  5. I read free and was hooked :) what interests me most would be the underground tunnels , i guess these have guided tours only. They would not want anyone getting lost down there. The other is to check out the views from above.

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  6. Those sculptures are so cool! I’m always so fascinated by underground tunnel systems - why they were built, what they were used for, what they’re used for today, etc. I’d love to explore the underground tunnel here. I’ll have to check out this citadel next time I’m in Belgium!

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  7. Looks absolutely beautiful there! I have never been to Belgium but I know that they have many old buildings and historical sites that I would love to visit. Wallonia looks like one of them for sure. I especially love the Chateau des Comptes.

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  8. I love visiting places with historical significance. I have recently learned that guided tours are more fun as they explain the history of a place with stories and folk lore.

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  9. Wow! I like that the citadel is free!! I'm always up for free entrances while I travel because I just do my own tours. And the lit-up statues look so interesting!

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  10. I've been to Belgium but in all my research for the trip I never came across this place. It sounds like a really neat historical place to visit and so nice that it's free entrance. That's one of the reasons I loved living in the UK, so many free museums!

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  11. This citadel looks lovely! Exploring the tunnels below must've been a lot of fun, and I'm intrigued by the lit-up statues; they almost look like VR or holograms! It's also incredible how the castle was used and expanded upon for various purposes throughout the centuries. That's also great that it's free for visitors!

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  12. The citadel definitely looks like the sort of place I'd like to visit in Namur. I love the architecture of it and the underground tunnel system looks so intriguing. I love those projections, actually looks like some ghosts haha. I'm sure it would freak some people out! Your baby is so lucky, getting to travel such lovely places with you at such a young age.

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  13. The projected video inside the wall of the tunnel sounds really interesting. I searched about this in Youtube and it is really amazing. Though I have not visited Belgium, but if I get a chance surely will visit this place.

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