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Namur (city)

From Academic Kids

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Namur, the Meuse, the Walloon parliament and the citadel.

Namur (Namen in Dutch) is the capital of the region of Wallonia in southern Belgium. It is also the chief town of the province of Namur. A city of around 100,000 people, it stands at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers at coordinates Template:Coor dm. Namur occupies a total area of 175.69 km² which gives a population density of 604.54 inhabitants per km². The municipality of Namur 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.

Contents

History

The town began as an important trading settlement in Celtic times, straddling east-west and north-south trade routes across the Ardennes. The Romans, too, 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 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. The expansionist King Louis IV of France invaded in 1692, capturing the town and annexing it to France. His renowned military engineer Vauban rebuilt the citadel.

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Namur from the citadel above the town

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 re-invaded in 1794, following the French Revolution. Namur was again annexed to France and a repressive Revolutionary regime was imposed. 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 regime. 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. 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 continued to host the Belgian Army's paratroopers until their departure in 1977.

Economy

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The Meuse, the bridge to Jambes and the citadel as seen from the Jambes side

Namur is an important commercial and industrial centre, producing machinery, leather goods, metals and porcelain. It is also an important railway 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. It plays host to a beer festival at Easter. Namur also has a distinctive 18th century cathedral dedicated to Saint Aubain.

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.

Namur possesses a distinguished university, the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, founded in 1831.

Notable inhabitants

External links

de:Namur (Stadt) fr:Namur nl:Namen (stad) no:Namur (by) pl:Namur (miasto) ro:Namur fi:Namur wa:Nameur

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