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Liège, located in the eastern part of the country, is one of Belgium's ten provinces. Its largest settlement is the city of Liège—the namesake of the province—situated towards the province's western portion. The region surrounding the town has been inhabited since the ancient Roman occupation. Thus, Liège features an abundance of historical and cultural landmarks. The province as we know it today was formed in 1795 when the Principality of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège was united with the French Department of the Ourthe. Since then, the province has become recognized as Wallonia's economic and cultural capital. Today, the province of Liège consists of four districts, Huy, Liège, Verviers, and Waremme, stretching across a total area of 3,862 square kilometers. Liège borders the Dutch province of Limburg, the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Luxembourgish canton of Clervaux, the Belgian Walloon provinces of Luxembourg, Namur and Walloon Brabant and the Belgian Flemish provinces of Flemish Brabant and Limburg. In terms of local geographical conditions, Liège can be divided into four regions, the Ardennes, Condroz, the Pays de Hervé, and Hesbaye. From west to east, the land rises gradually towards the Hautes Fagnes plateau, which contains Belgium's highest point at an altitude of 694 meters above sea level.
The largest city and the namesake of the province is Liège, found in the west-central part of the territory. Liège has reportedly been inhabited since ancient Roman times. However, the first mention of the city is from the year 558 A.D. Thus, Liège has several notable historical landmarks and attractions for visitors to explore, including the Grand Curtius museum, the collegiate church of Saint Bartholomew, the historic rue Hors-Château with its listed heritage and dead ends, the Bueren mountain, the Place du Marché and the Perron, the Town Hall, and the Palace of the Prince-Bishops. In the Island district, visitors can discover the city's opera and numerous theaters while strolling along pedestrian streets of the Carré lined with shops. A visit to Saint Paul's cathedral and its gothic cloister is also recommended. Additionally, the city is home to several museums, such as the Archeoforum, Museum of Prehistoric Life, Aquarium-Museum, Grand Curtius, Ansembourg, and La Boverie, to name a few. Among the notable museums also belongs the Museum of Walloon Life, located at the heart of the city. The museum showcases a comprehensive perspective on Wallonia from the 19th century to the present day.
Another historical destination in the Liège Province is Castle Jehay, found to the west of the city of Liège. The seigniory of Jehay has its roots in the Middle Ages. Over time, it was acquired by various families. The Province de Liège has been working on the site since 2000, with projects that intend to restore the castle and ongoing historical and archaeological studies to enhance the site's heritage and tourism value. The castle also features a Park of Château de Jehay, consisting of the "pleasure gardens" as well as a kitchen garden and wooded areas that have undergone several redesigns over the centuries. The gardens feature Italian Renaissance characteristics, with perspectives, sculptural decor, and water features as prominent aspects. Moreover, the park contains a variety of indigenous, exotic, or horticultural trees, fifteen of which are listed for special protection and conservation. Visitors can also explore the old ice house built in the 19th century to store natural ice collected during the winter. The bronze sculptures found scattered across the park belong to the works of Count Guy van den Steen and are inspired by Greco-Roman mythology and classic literature.
The province of Liège is divided into four districts: Huy, Liège, Verviers, and Waremme, covering a total area of 3862 square kilometers. Geographically, Liège also consists of four regions, the Ardennes, Condroz, Pays de Hervé, and Hesbaye. The Hesbaye plateau is known for its fertile alluvium soils, while straight ridges and depressions characterize the Condroz region. The secondary limestone bed of the Pays de Hervé is primarily covered with clay, as several rivers cross the area. The Ardennes region has ancient sandstones, mainly covered by pine forests interspersed with open fields. Generally, the local nature is diversified, resulting from varied geographical conditions. The Pays de Herve is used for cattle rearing and fruit growing, while the Condroz region contains a mixture of crops, open fields, and forests. The local river network includes the Meuse River and its tributaries. Concerning the topography, the landscape gradually rises from west to east and from Hesbaye to the Hautes Fagnes plateau, which includes Belgium's highest point at an altitude of 694 meters above sea level.
There are several natural protected areas found within the borders of Liège province. One of them is the High Fens-Eifel Nature Park, located in the eastern part of the province, as part of a German-Belgian cross-border nature park. Beyond the diversity of landscapes, including the forest massifs, valleys and streams, meadows, hedgerows, and mountain ridges, the nature park also features several historical landmarks. Visitors can observe the stars from the nature park as well. In 2007, UNESCO declared the park's natural dark night sky as a protected part of UNESCO World Heritage. Since 2010, the Eifel region has been committed to preserving natural darkness at night. With the professional support of the astronomy workshop "Stars Without Borders," public institutions and private companies were made aware of the topic and supported with protective measures. In 2019, the park received recognition as a star park, and it now cooperates with over 40 partners to protect the natural darkness and make it accessible for visitors.
Concerning weather conditions, the climate of Liège province is cool and temperate, with an oceanic type. Regarding the average temperatures in Liège, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 24°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures generally rest around 5°C on average. April tends to be the driest month in Liège because it receives about 57 mm of rainfall on a typical basis. The most precipitation falls during December, as it receives an average of about 104 mm.
At the University of Liège, visitors can learn more about the ancient and prehistoric eras in Liège at a local Museum of Prehistory. The university was the first in Belgium to offer a course in prehistory, with a collection of objects used for practical work amassed over the years. Today, Belgian excavated material must be handed over to approved repositories, meaning the university's collections may only expand through donations or exchanges. Notable pieces in the collection include hand axes, flint and bone fragments, and engraved plates from the Magdalenian period.
The capital of the Liège province, the city of Liège, has a notable history dating back to the early Frankish period, with evidence of human settlement in the area dating back 800,000 years. The city was first mentioned under the name Vicus Leudicus in 558 A.D. and rose to prominence under the first prince-bishop, Notger, in the late 10th century. During Notger's reign, Liège became the most powerful city in Lotharingia and was referred to as the "Athens of the three Gauls." An elected prince-bishop ruled the town for 800 years, and the prince-bishop's palace still stands in the city center. Liège became the capital of the independent Principality of Liège in the late 10th century and remained part of the Empire until the annexation of the Low Countries to France in 1792. Liège was the cradle of the Carolingian dynasty, with Charlemagne, Pepin of Herstal, and other members of the dynasty all born in the vicinity of the city.
Borders of the Liège province as we know it today date back to 1795 when the Principality of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège was united with the French Department of the Ourthe. Liège was under French control during Napoleon's reign. However, following Napoleon's fall, Liège became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Liège was an early center of the Industrial Revolution, with coal deposits and steel factories helping to form Belgium's economic status. The city's heavy industry thrived in the 1950s and 1960s but has declined since then. Despite that, Liège remains recognized as Wallonia's economic and cultural capital.
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