Welcome to Namur, the picturesque capital of Wallonia and one of Belgium’s best-kept secrets. Nestled just an easy hour’s drive to the south of Brussels, this enchanting city effortlessly blends rich history with modern allure, creating a captivating destination that promises a memorable journey for every traveler. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll lead you through the essential aspects of planning your visit to Namur. From how to get there and where to stay, to the must-see attractions and delectable local cuisine, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and uncover the wonders that await!
- A brief history of Namur
- Discover Namur
- Travel to Namur
- Where to stay
- Local specialties
A brief history of Namur
Namur’s roots stretch deep into antiquity, harking back to pre-Roman times when it stood as a fortified town, or oppidum. From the year 908, it served as the seat of the illustrious counts of Namur until the reins passed to Burgundy in 1421. The city’s most iconic feature is its awe-inspiring medieval citadel, perched gracefully upon a rocky promontory nestled between two flowing rivers. Originally constructed as a castle for the counts, this citadel bore witness to the winds of change, undergoing significant fortifications during the 15th, 16th, and 19th centuries, before gradually falling into disuse by 1862.
Even in the face of the ravages of World War I, Namur remained resilient. Its newer fortifications, built in 1893, were tragically destroyed by the Germans. Yet, throughout this tumultuous period, Namur retained its significance as an esteemed episcopal see, maintaining its spiritual prominence since the year 1559.
Top Attractions in Namur City
Namur City has plenty to offer visitors, from historic landmarks to beautiful parks and gardens. Here are some of the top attractions to add to your itinerary:
- The Citadel of Namur: This impressive fortress sits atop a hill overlooking the city and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Visitors can explore the fortress and learn about its history at the museum inside.
- St. Aubin’s Cathedral: This stunning cathedral dates back to the 18th century and is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture.
- Namur Museum of Ancient Arts: This museum houses a collection of ancient art, including Roman and Egyptian artifacts.
- Belfry of Namur: This historic tower dates back to the 14th century and offers panoramic views of the city.
Best things to do in Namur
Beyond its prominent attractions, Namur has a wealth of activities to make your visit truly memorable. Here are some delightful ideas to enhance your itinerary:
- Walk along the Meuse: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Meuse River and take in the beautiful views of the city.
- Explore the Old Town: Namur City’s Old Town is filled with charming medieval architecture, narrow streets, and lively squares. It’s a great place to stroll around and get a feel for the city’s history.
- Take a Boat Tour: One of the best ways to see Namur City is from the water. Visitors can take a boat tour along the Meuse River and admire the city’s skyline from a different perspective.
- Visit a Local Market: Namur City has several markets that offer fresh produce, local crafts, and other goods. The Saturday morning market is the largest and most popular, but there are also markets on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Taste the Local Cuisine: Namur City is known for its delicious cuisine, which features local specialties like escavèche (pickled fish), couque de Dinant (a sweet pastry), and escargots à la namuroise (snails cooked in white wine and garlic).
- Enjoy the Nightlife: Namur City has a lively nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. The Rue de Fer is a popular street for nightlife, with several bars and restaurants.
Getting around in Namur
Namur City presents itself as a compact, pedestrian-friendly destination, making it easy to explore on foot. However, for those seeking alternative transportation options, here are some valuable insights:
- Namur City has a bike-sharing system called Li bia velo, which allows visitors to rent bikes for a small fee. This is a great way to explore the city at your own pace.
- Busses are operated by TEC. Single tickets cost 2€ in pre-sale and are valid for one hour. During this hour you can change bus lines as much as you want. When the hour is over you can finish your ride to your destination but you can’t change lines anymore.
For more information check the Belgium Public Transport Guide: https://www.belgiumtravel.info/belgium-public-transport-guide/.
Namur Tourist Map
Travel to Namur
Namur City is conveniently located near the E42 and E411 highways, making it easily accessible by car. In addition, the city can also easily be reached by train from all major Belgian cities. The journey from Brussels Airport takes less than 1h15, while Brussels-Charleroi Airport is only 30 minutes away. For more information on trains to Namur, check the Belgium Public Transport Guide.
Where to stay
Namur’s hospitality is as charming as the city itself. An array of accommodations awaits, catering to a variety of preferences and budgets. Whether you seek the comfort of a cozy boutique hotel or the convenience of a well-appointed guesthouse, Namur offers a diverse range of options that guarantee a restful and enjoyable stay.
Namur’s cuisine is a celebration of local flavors, showcasing the region’s unique gastronomic heritage. Here are some delectable local specialties that should grace your palate:
1. Escargots à la Namuroise: A Local Delicacy
Indulge in the flavors of Namur with escargots à la namuroise, a dish of snails bathed in a rich garlic butter sauce, elegantly served within their shells. This delightful dish is a true emblem of the region’s culinary artistry and can be savored in numerous restaurants.
2. Jambon d’Ardenne: A Taste of the Ardennes
Featuring cured ham crafted from the succulent pork of the Ardennes, Jambon d’Ardenne is a local treasure. The ham is skillfully seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and juniper berries, followed by a meticulous smoking and drying process. It’s a versatile ingredient used in a variety of dishes, adding its distinctive flavor to salads, sandwiches, and more.
3. Biétrumé: A Sweet Legacy
Satisfy your sweet tooth with Biétrumé, a delectable soft caramel candy enriched with toasted hazelnuts. This culinary gem, born in 1954 at the Fronville chocolate factory, carries the essence of Namur’s history and traditions. Named in memory of the legendary prankster Jean-Biétrumé Picar, this treat has become a beloved local delicacy, adorning the shelves of chocolate shops and candy stores throughout Namur and its environs.
4. Escavèche: A Flavorful Tradition
Indulge in the flavors of Wallonia with escavèche, a traditional dish that artfully preserves fish in a vinegar-based sauce. While the original recipe featured eel, variations now include trout or pike. This culinary tradition, particularly beloved in the South-Hainaut and Namur regions, carries echoes of the Spanish occupation of Chimay. Experience the authentic taste of Namur in local restaurants and shops, where escavèche is a cherished delight.
Namur City, with its captivating blend of history, beauty, and gastronomy, beckons you to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Wallonia. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of the citadel, the enchantment of the Old Town, or the temptation of local flavors, Namur promises a journey that will leave you with cherished memories. Pack your bags, prepare for an expedition of discovery, and let the charm of Namur captivate your soul.