Citadel of Namur - Underground tour, History, Views (Wallonia - Belgium)

CITADELLE DE NAMUR - NAMUR CASTLE

The first thing about Namur is ofcourse the citadel. It looks majestic and is visible from the railway station itself! Infact it is visible from from the train tracks, as you cross Namur! It is the face of Namur and it is actually the logo of Ville de Namur (City of Namur)!

Free things to do in Namur

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 (yes, its one of the free things to do in Namur and  that's a super cool thing) 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. 

Namur Castle 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.

Citadel of Namur Underground Passages Tour

Citadel of Namur Underground Passages Tour

Citadel of Namur Underground Passages Tour

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.

Citadel of Namur Underground Passages Tour

Citadel of Namur Terra Nova Visitors Centre

Citadel of Namur Terra Nova Visitors Centre

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.

Citadel of Namur View of river Meuse

Citadelle de Namur

Citadelle de Namur Free things to do in Namur

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

NAMUR HOTELS
Hotels at all price points are available in Namur incl. Ibis Namur Centre. There are quite a few unique boutique, luxury hotels in Namur city like Royal Snail, NE5T, Les 7 Meuses. Check out my review of the historic hotel, Hotel Les Tanneurs.

HOW TO REACH CITADELLE DE NAMUR
On Google Maps: Terra Nova Visitor's Centre  - Walkable from Namur Railway station. 

NAMUR CITADEL TICKETS
Namur Citadel Tickets: 
Citadelle Pass (underground tour, tourist train & terra nova centre) - €15
Only Underground tour - €10; 
Only Tourist train - €6
Only Terra Nova Visitors Centre - €4
Terra Nova Centre entry free for Museumpassmusees holders.

NAMUR CASTLE OPENING HOURS
Gates of the staircase/ramp - 8:00AM to 5:00/8:00PM in winters & summers respectively.
Terra Nova Visitors Centre: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Touristic train departs from Terra Nova every hour from 10:30AM till 4:30 or 5:30 (except 12:30) 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.

MY ENTIRE NAMUR & DINANT TRAVELOGUE
Namur CitadelGuy Delforge Perfumery, Jean Chalon GardenRailbikes of MoligneeDomaine des Grotte de HanLes Jardin d'Annevoie, Wepion StrawberryDinant Citadel & Notre dame CollegialeMaison Leffe & Grotte MerveilleuseDinant Town

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.

Citadelle de Namur Pinterest Citadelle de Namur Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands