The Meuse and the citadel
|• Mayor||Maxime Prévot (CDH)|
|• Governing party/ies||CDH-Ecolo-MR|
|• Total||175.69 km2 (67.83 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2013)|
|• Density||630/km2 (1,600/sq mi)|
Namur (French pronunciation: [namyʁ], Dutch: Namen (help·info), Nameur in Walloon) is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and (since 1986) of Wallonia. It hosts the Walloon Parliament.
Namur stands at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers and straddles three different regions - Hesbaye to the north, Condroz to the south-east and Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse to the south-west. The language spoken is French.
The City of Namur includes the old communes of Beez, Belgrade, Saint-Servais, Saint-Marc, Bouge, Champion, Daussoulx, Flawinne, Malonne, Suarlée, Temploux, Vedrin, Boninne, Cognelée, Gelbressée, Marche-les-Dames, Dave, Jambes, Naninne, Wépion, Wierde, Erpent, Lives-sur-Meuse, and Loyers.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2012)|
The town began as an important trading settlement in Celtic times, straddling east-west and north-south trade routes across the Ardennes. The Romans established a presence after Julius Caesar defeated the local Aduatuci tribe.
Namur came to prominence during the early Middle Ages when the Merovingians built a castle or citadel on the rocky spur overlooking the town at the confluence of the two rivers. In the 10th century, it became a county in its own right. The town developed somewhat unevenly, as the counts of Namur could only build on the north bank of the Meuse - the south bank was owned by the bishops of Liège and developed more slowly into the town of Jambes (now effectively a suburb of Namur). In 1262, Namur fell into the hands of the Count of Flanders, and was purchased by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1421.
After Namur became part of the Spanish Netherlands in the 1640s, its citadel was considerably strengthened. Louis XIV of France invaded in 1692, capturing the town and annexing it to France. His renowned military engineer Vauban rebuilt the citadel. French control was short-lived, as William III of Orange-Nassau captured Namur only three years later in 1695 during the War of the Grand Alliance. Under the Barrier Treaty of 1709, the Dutch gained the right to garrison Namur, although the subsequent Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 gave control of the formerly Spanish Netherlands to the Austrian House of Habsburg. Thus, although the Austrians ruled the town, the citadel was controlled by the Dutch. It was rebuilt again under their tenure.
France invaded the region again in 1794, during the French Revolutionary Wars, and again annexed Namur, imposing a repressive regime. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna incorporated what is now Belgium into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Belgium broke away from the Netherlands in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution, and Namur continued to be a major garrison town under the new government. The citadel was rebuilt yet again in 1887.
Namur was a major target of the German invasion of Belgium in 1914, which sought to use the Meuse valley as a route into France. On August 21st, 1914, the Germans bombarded the town of Namur, without any previous notice given. Several persons were killed. Despite being billed as virtually impregnable, the citadel fell after only three days' fighting and the town was occupied by the Germans for the rest of the war. Namur fared little better in World War II; it was in the front lines of both the Battle of the Ardennes in 1940 and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The town suffered heavy damage in both wars.
Namur is an important commercial and industrial centre, located on the Walloon industrial backbone, the Sambre and Meuse valley. It produces machinery, leather goods, metals and porcelain. Its railway station is also an important junction situated on the north-south line between Brussels and Luxembourg City, and the east-west line between Lille and Liège. River barge traffic passes through the middle of the city along the Meuse.
Culture and sights
Namur has taken on a new role as the capital of the federal region of Wallonia. Its location at the head of the Ardennes has also made it a popular tourist centre, with a casino located in its southern district on the left bank of the Meuse.
The town's most prominent sight is the citadel, now demilitarised and open to the public. Namur also has a distinctive 18th century cathedral dedicated to Saint Aubain and a belfry classified by UNESCO as part of the Belfries of Belgium and France which are listed as a World Heritage Site.
The Couvent des Soeurs de Notre-Dame used to contain masterpieces of Mosan art by Hugo d'Oignieswhich are presently presented in the Musée des arts anciens (rue de fer). Elsewhere there is an archeological museum and a museum dedicated to Félicien Rops.
An odd Namurois custom is the annual Combat de l'Échasse d'Or (Fight for the Golden Stilt), held on the third Sunday in September. Two teams, the Mélans and the Avresses, dress in medieval clothes while standing on stilts and do battle in one of the town's principal squares.
Since 1986 Namur has been home to the Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film. A jazz (Nam'in'Jazz) and a rock (Verdur Rock) festivals also take place yearly in Namur.
The local baseball team is named Namur Angels.
Twin towns — sister cities
Namur is twinned with:
- Rhisnes (Namur) a suburb to the north of the city
- Population per municipality on 1 January 2013 (XLS; 607.5 KB)
- "Belfries of Belgium and France - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- 22ème Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur retrieved May 14, 2007. (French language)
- (French) Jean-Pol Hiernaux : Namur, capitale de la Wallonie, in Encyclopédie du Mouvement wallon, Tome II, Charleroi, Institut Jules Destrée, 2000, ISBN 2-87035-019-8 (or 2d ed., CD-ROM, 2003, ISBN 2-87035-028-7)
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