NAMUR, BELGIUM: Namur, Namen in Flemish, is the capital of the Province of Namur and Wallonia region which is the French-speaking part of Belgium. Located by River Meuse (Mass), the city has its own heritage and unique look. This charming city can be a great getaway for tourists when visiting country’s capital, Brussels.
TIME of OUR TRAVEL: It was 2nd Saturday of March, 2013 when we visited Namur. We had a friend from Antwerp who accompanied us in this trip. The winter wasn’t over yet, but that day turned out to be a surprise for us. It was still cold and a bit gloomy in the morning, but luckily no rain (as predicted) and no bone-freezing cold. We left our home around 10:45 am and took us about an hour from Tervuren to reach the citadel of Namur.
EATING and SHOPPING: Most of the streets in old town near Cathedral St. Aubain are loaded with variety of cuisines and cafes. We had lunch in Express Asia on Rue de Fer. There are many bakeries and waffle house to treat your sweet tooth too. By the way, the smell of these waffles were divine…I thought I would have one before leaving, but forgot…hmmm.
Namur won’t disappoint you when it comes to shopping. In fact, I want to go back to Namur one day by myself only to do some crazy shopping spree. You will find almost every type of store on Rue de Fer and all the other small branches of alleys from or around Rue de Fer and close to the university. I wonder if this is the biggest shopping center in Wallonia!
PLACE WE’VE VISITED: We spent about a whole day in Namur, about 6/7 hours. We didn’t have any itinerary or a to-see list to follow. We knew we wanted to see the citadel, after that we just wandered around and went inside whatever looked good in our eyes. One thing that we didn’t see but should have seen was the Belfry of Namur which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are the places we’ve seen and enjoyed:
1) CITADELLE de NAMUR: The citadel is town’s most prominent sight. It is more like an open park for the public on top of the mountain. Many locals come here for jogging, walking, and biking. The best part of being on the top is that you get a fantastic view of the whole town. The scenic beauty of River Meuse with old buildings by the side is picture perfect.
The hill where the citadel is located is called, Champeau hill. From 10th – 15th centuries, the castle was the residence of the earl of Namur. In the 16th century, a modern fortification called “Mediane” was built. Chateau de Namur was built in 1910 AD. There are some underground passages to take a walk but can only be done with a tour. Even though there are very few remains from the medieval period, some elements can still be seen, such as the general outline of the castle, 3 of its towers, and part of the foundations.
There is no fee to enter the citadel. Train ride costs 4 euros per person (4 years and below are free) and lasts for about 20 minutes. Another package which is available to the tourists costs 9 euros. This is with a guided tour and includes the train ride, underground passages, medieval part of the citadel, and a film. There is a big parking lot in front of reception where we parked for free.
2) CATHEDRALE ST. AUBAIN: Turquoise dome of this cathedral can be seen from far distance and from top of the citadel. Outer Late-Baroque look of St. Aubain may not impress you as much but it’s a totally different story when you go inside. It’s very big in size but more than that the walls and vaulted ceilings are delightful. The highlights of this church are probably the richly carved dome, decorative main altar, and the huge organ in the back. It didn’t look like a typical Belgian church to me…has more of Italian/Roman touch to it.
3) RUE de FER: This is probably one of the busiest streets of city where Namur Town Hall is located. The whole stretch of this street (partially pedestrian zone) has tons of shops, local boutiques, brand name places, chocolatiers, and etc…you can say this is the fashion street of the Walloons.
4) CHURCH of ST. LOUP: This is a very sophisticated looking church located in the old town/heart of Namur and very close to Cathedral St. Aubain. The interior of this Baroque style church is very gorgeous. The vaulted ceilings, main altar, the black and red marble naves and columns are remarkable. It is a small church but a must see in Namur.
5) PLACE de I’ANGE: As I said before, we really didn’t have any to-see list for Namur. We were doing some window shopping on Rue de la Croix (one of the alleys of old town and this big square sort of opened up at the end of the street to our surprise. This is a lively and lovely square with many shops and cafes along with an indoor shopping mall, Galerie Jardin D’harscamp. Most of it is pedestrian zone. We came here little bit before our parking meter was almost up…so could only spent little time here.