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Namur is one of Belgium's ten provinces, found in the southern part of the country, in the larger region called Wallonia, which is reportedly known as the French-speaking part of Belgium. The province stretches across 3675 square kilometers, neighboring Walloon provinces of Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, Liège, Luxembourg in Belgium, and the French Department of Ardennes. The capital city, also called Namur, can be found in the central-northern part of the region. Namur Citadel is one of the predominant attractions in the city. Additionally, visitors can also experience some local traditions in the province's capital, such as stilt jousting, a tradition protected by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Most of the Namur province area geographically belongs to the Ardennes, a forested plateau covering parts of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. One of the local gateways to the Ardennes is the Furfooz nature reserve, featuring caves, caverns, and rock holes that served as human dwellings carved to the stones by the Lesse River. Historically, the Namur city territory has been inhabited since ancient times, bearing evidence of Neanderthals living in the local area. The city developed and eventually became the site of numerous fights due to its advantageous position. Namur province came from its French precursor called the département de Sambre-et-Meuse.
The capital and also the namesake of the Namur province is the city of Namur, located in the central-northern part of the region. The city contains a considerable amount of historical heritage, with arguably the most notable sight being the Namur Citadel. The Citadel of Namur is located on a hill at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, having played a significant role in European history due to its strategic location. The site has been used for military purposes since the 3rd century AD. Since then, the Citadel has undergone various modifications and improvements, including the construction of underground galleries and bastions during the Thirty Years War. In the 19th century, the Citadel was rebuilt by the Dutch, and since the construction of concrete forts around Namur, it has served as a leisure and walking venue. Visitors can explore the site on foot, via a tourist train, or they can explore the local history by a guided underground tour. Additionally, the city of Namur features an 18th-century cathedral dedicated to Saint Aubain and a belfry protected by UNESCO among the Belfries of Belgium and France as a World Heritage Site. Moreover, UNESCO also protects intangible heritage in Namur, the tradition of stilt jousting, dating back to 1411. To this day, the tradition is practiced by the stilt walkers of Namur. The Combat de l'Échasse d'Or (Fight for the Golden Stilt) is held annually on the third Sunday in September. As part of the fight, two teams dress up in medieval costumes while standing on stilts and joust against each other in one of the town's main squares. Since 2021, the Namur stilt jousts are recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Apart from the capital city, another city that tends to draw attention is Dinant, known for its riverbank and a Gothic-style landmark in the form of the Collegiate Church of Our Lady. The church is situated at the foot of a rocky outcrop, with the citadel towering above it. The citadel, which was reconstructed in 1821 during the time when Dinant was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, can be reached via a flight of 408 steps or by taking the tourist road train to the visitors' center. Notably, Dinant is also recognized for its resident Adolphe Sax, an inventor of the saxophone.
To the south of Namur city, along the Meuse River, is located another potential point of interest, the Annevoie Castle, featuring the Annevoie Gardens. Charles Alexis de Montpellier created the Water Gardens of Annevoie in the 18th century. The gardens are influenced by three philosophies - French, Italian, and English - and feature various artificial natural effects. Since 1982, the gardens have been protected as Historical Heritage and are open to the public to this day. In 2017, the gardens and the castle were taken over by a private foundation, Domaine Historique du Château et des Jardins d'Annevoie, to restore, preserve and enhance the estate. In today's time, the gardens serve as a considerable touristic attraction for visitors seeking outdoor recreation.
The province of Namur covers an area of 3,666 square kilometers and features a diverse range of natural regions that give the local countryside its distinct character. The site is formed of six separate parts that span 60 km from north to south. In the north, the open peneplain of Hesbaye, situated at an elevation of 150 to 200 m above sea level, comprises a layer of alluvium that supports crop growth. The Sambre and Meuse corridor represents a narrow transitional zone between Hesbaye and the Condroz section of the Ardennes, which is characterized by fertile meadows and woodland. The province of Namur is situated at the edge of the densely populated region of north-western Europe, with its southern reaches extending into sparsely populated areas that stretch from the Champagne through the Ardennes to the Eifel. The northern part of the province links Brussels with the country's southeast and is a notable crossroads for international traffic. Namur province is often nicknamed the "Garden of Belgium" due to its natural sites and forests.
Across the Namur province's territory stretches the Ardennes, a heavily forested plateau covering parts of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The Ardennes consists of two distinct regions: the High Ardennes in the south, with elevations ranging from 1,150 to 1,640 feet, and the northern part, which sits at lower elevations. Heavy precipitation and low clouds enhance the diversity of local flora and fauna. Additionally, agriculture, quarrying, and tannin processing are some of the industries in the Ardennes region. In the Lesse Valley of the province, Namur can be found the Furfooz Nature Reserve, which serves as one of the gateways to the Ardennes. The nature reserve features a range of scenery, including forests, meadows, and riverbanks. However, the diversity of natural conditions isn't the sole reason for visitors to seek out the Furfooz reserve, as the area also features a historical heritage. Over time, the Lesse River carved through the rock and created caves, caverns, and rock holes that served as human dwellings for millennia. Moreover, the reserve's archaeological heritage includes Roman ruins as well.
Regarding the average temperatures in Namur province capital, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 24°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures typically rest around 6°C on average. April tends to be the driest month in Namur because it generally receives 56 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, as it receives an average of about 93 mm.
The region of Namur in Belgium has been inhabited since ancient times, with evidence of Homo Neanderthals living in the area at least 100,000 years ago. The first Homo Sapiens settled in the region's caves as well. The world's oldest case of dog domestication, dating back to 31,700 years ago, was found in Goyet's Caves a few kilometers southeast of the city of Namur. During the Iron Age, the area of today's Namur city was the site of Oppidum Atuatucorum, the oldest pre-Roman fortified settlement in the Benelux. It was probably the capital of the Atuatuci tribe. After the Roman conquest, a fort replaced the settlement, but artifacts found in the old town of Namur show that the settlement remained.
The city of Namur served as the seat of the counts of Namur from 908 until it was taken over by Burgundy in 1421. The town was dominated by a medieval citadel located on a rocky promontory between two rivers, and it has been an episcopal see since 1559. Namur has been the site of numerous battles and sieges due to its strategic location at the head of routes into France. The sieges of Namur during the War of the Grand Alliance (1689–97) were particularly noteworthy. The citadel, originally the castle of the counts of Namur, was fortified in the 15th, 16th, and 19th centuries but was abandoned in 1862. During both World War I and II, the city of Namur suffered considerable damage.
As for the province as a whole, the northern part of the local area, which roughly corresponds to the current province of Namur, was known as the County of Namur until 1482. The southeastern tip, south of Rochefort, belonged to the County and later to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Most of the remaining area was part of the prince-bishopric of Liège, including Dinant and Ciney. After 1482, the County of Namur became part of the Habsburgian Netherlands while the principality of Liège remained independent. The whole province, and the entirety of Belgium, was unified under French rule in 1792. The French precursor of the present area was called the département de Sambre-et-Meuse from 1792 to 1814.
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