Historic Namur is located on the banks of Belgium's Meuse River about an hour southeast of Brussels. Both the capital of Namur province and the Wallonia region, the city is home to the Walloon Parliament. And yet with all of its modern-day stature, Namur is at its heart a walled medieval village dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries that's ripe for exploration by foot. The city’s symbol is the snail, encouraging both visitors and residents to take it slow and enjoy the beauty that’s all around.
What We Love
It's Pedestrian-Friendly: Namur lays claim to one of the largest pedestrian-friendly city centers in Europe. Very few vehicles are permitted, and instead you’ll find people meandering down ancient streets and through picturesque alleyways — just as they’ve done for hundreds of years. Along the way, cafés, boutiques, chocolatiers, cheese shops, and plenty of other doorways beckon passersby.
Best Known For
The Citadel of Namur: Sitting on bluffs high above the city, this impressive fortification had its origins in the 10th century but its main structures date back to the Middle Ages. It offers up expansive city and river views, while the museum inside provides details on the region's extensive history. Pick up a guide printed in English at the entrance so you can appreciate every detail.
Stilt Walkers: For more than 600 years, opposing teams of stilt walkers have taken to the streets of Namur to do battle for the entertainment of emperors and kings, who have included Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Peter the Great, as well as for the public. Today, two stilt walkers teams of Namur — the Mélans from the old city, with yellow and black stilts, and the Avresses from beyond the old city’s walls, with red and white stilts — still entertain the crowds, and even invite spectators to try their hands, or feet, at stilt walking. It’s best, however, to leave the fighting to the pros.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: In addition to the citadel and the old city's medieval structures, the Bastogne War Museum is located one hour away by bus and recounts World War II and the Battle of the Bulge.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Cobblestones Can Hobble: Like most quaint European villages, Namur’s alleyways and streets are constructed of cobblestone. Be sure to wear flat, comfortable shoes so that your attention is focused on the sights, not your aching feet.
Susan B. Barnes is a Florida-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for USA Today and Afar.