Namur

 

Namur (French: Namur; Walloon: Nameur) is a city in Belgium , located where the river Sambre flows into the Meuse. It is the capital of the Walloon Region (Wallonia) and the capital of the province of Namur.

The city is located about 65 km south of Brussels, at the confluence of Sambre and Meuse and at the borders of Haspengouw , Condroz and the region between Sambre and Meuse. The current city center is located on the left bank of the Sambre. The city has more than 110,000 inhabitants, which represents about a quarter of all inhabitants of the province.

Namur is home to the government and parliament of Wallonia. In Jambes are important buildings of the Walloon Region , including the Elysette , the official residence of the Prime Minister of Wallonia. With a large number of educational institutions at all levels - including the Université de Namur (UNamur) - and large hospitals, Namur fulfills an important care function for the entire Condroz and the Ardennes hinterland.

History
The earliest history
The first human traces in Namur date back to the Old Stone Age and were found on the Grognon , the part of the city at the foot of the rocky outcrop on which the citadel stands today. Many more traces have been found from around 8000 BC, but a truly sedentary population would only have existed from 2500 BC. However, this does not mean the origin of the current city, because in the following centuries the site of present-day Namur appears to be abandoned. About the beginning of the chronology there is a more civil than military settlement on the left Sambre bank. Later a vicus develops there according to a checkerboard pattern.

From the end of the 3rd century, the city retracts (as a result of migrations and raids) on the Grognon, under the rocky outcrop on which a first fortress is said to have been built in this period. From the 6th to the 8th century, Namur remains a small settlement of limited importance. Namur is now expanding again to the other Sambre bank.

Capital of a medieval county
City expansion and ramparts
The rights of the Liège prince-bishop, in particular, will for centuries prevent any expansion of the count's city to the other bank of the Meuse (today's Jambes ). When the population increases around 1000, the city continues to find its way on the left Sambre bank. Here a chapel in honor of Saint-Rémy is established and a market is held. According to some, this makes the city more of a ville sambrienne than a ville mosane. At the end of the 10th century, this settlement was protected by a stone wall on the count's initiative. Further to the east, the chapter of Saint-Aubain was created in 1047around which a new core develops. The count thus secured his own chapter, as Notre-Dame on the Grognon was controlled by the prince-bishop. These and other new districts on the left bank of the Sambre were incorporated into a new wall during the 11th and 12th centuries.

In the later Middle Ages Namur expanded further, so that the area of ​​the city increased fivefold. From the 12th century, the construction of the so-called 'third wall' started, which was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries, partly as a result of the devastating floods of 1409. However, the city also develops outside this new wall, underneath more with the Neuveville, where mainly craftsmen settle. That is why a 'fourth' or large wall is started from 1357. Due to the threat from Liège and the strategic location of Namur, the activities under the Burgundian dukes are geared up. In 1508 Emperor Charles (1500-1558) the works were given a new impulse so that the wall was finally completed around 1530 - almost two centuries after the start of its construction.

Namur and its count
During the Carolingian period , Namur became the center of the pagus Lomacensis , the predecessor of the county of Namur . In 937 Béranger (ca. 890-946), the 'first' count of Namur, settles on the rock that towers over the confluence of Sambre and Meuse . In the 12th century, when the Count of Namur was at the height of his power, the castle was extended with the collegiate church of Saint-Pierre . It was not until the next century that most of the castle - now with towers, moats and many outbuildings - was built.

In 1198 the Namur count's dynasty died out. In the succession perils, the city, which must then have numbered about five to six thousand inhabitants, falls prey to the flames. From now on, Namur is only the capital of a second-rank county. Several houses rule the town and the surrounding countryside until Count John III of Namur in 1421 sold the county of Namur to the Burgundian duke Philip the Good (1396-1467), who ordered modifications to the castle.

 

On an administrative and economic level, the role of the count will continue to exist after the 12th century, but at the same time the townspeople also acquire more power. The first alderman's bank was already formed during the 12th century . In the 13th century, it was established in a first 'town hall' (cabaret des échevins) with a platform in front of it, while the tower of the castle church on the rock serves as a belfry . In the later Middle Ages several new hospitals were founded in Namur, new religious orders established themselves in Namur and several beguinages were created .

Economically, Namur is developing into a regional economic center, partly with the annual fair on the Herbatte, a plain to the northeast of the city. At the beginning of the 15th century, the city had about 8,000 inhabitants, much less than the Flemish cities at that time. Butchers and bakers provide food from their Vleeshal on the bridge over the Sambre (the current archaeological museum) and with their mills on the Namur rivers respectively. In addition, there are some quarries along the Maas and there is the tannery and the cloth industry . The latter industrial activities are usually carried out along the banks of the Sambre and the Hoyoux (a small river that flows into the Maas in Namur). 

A fortified early modern city
A pawn in the European power game
In 1477, Mary of Burgundy inherited the county of Namur , but she died in 1482. In 1488, Namur revolted against Maximilian of Austria , Mary's husband, who had the city shelled. In a final agreement, Namur retains all its privileges, but has to pay for the damage to the castle . As early as the 1490s, Philip the Fair , the son of Mary and Maximilian, spent some time in Namur and was inaugurated there in 1495 in Saint-Aubain . After Philip's early death in 1506, his son Charles V.On. Like his father, he is also inaugurated in Namur (1515): the states have provided a new residence for the lord and parties are organized. Karel is thus the last (Spanish) monarch to enter the city on Sambre and Maas . It lasted until 1780 when Emperor Joseph II , at that time 'incognito' traveling through the Austrian Netherlands , announced himself at the gates of the city as “le comte de Namur” .

As early as 1540, Charles sent military engineers to Namur to further expand the fortifications. During the Revolt , Don Juan made the Namur castle the base of operations for the recapture of the rebellious Netherlands. Between 1578 and the fall of Brussels in 1585, the city became the seat of the royal administration in the Netherlands.

Namur became a very important place strategically, especially in the 17th century. In a century when the war is almost endemic, Namur is also swept up in international strife. From the 1630s on, the city and castle were further strengthened and barracks were built. Around 1666 Namur already had a wall with nine bastions , and work will continue after that date.

In the 1690s Namur undergoes two major sieges. In 1692, Louis XIV of France took Namur after five weeks of resistance from the castle. Vauban starts building barracks, a military hospital and an arsenal on the Sambre (which still exists). In 1695, however, the city was again besieged, this time by the troops of William III , Stadholder of Holland and King of England . Namur will now house a Dutch garrison and the Dutch Menno van Coehoorn will be charged with the work on the ramparts.

In 1695, Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria took part in the Allied capture of Namur, but a few years later he sided with Philip V (as grandson of Louis XIV, the French candidate for the Spanish throne ) in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). ). In 1701, Namur thus once again falls into French hands. Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban returns to the city and ultimately prefers Georges Prosper van Verboom's plan (who works in Spanish service) to his own project for Namur. In 1704, troops of the Republic bombarded the city again, but it remained under the control of the Spanish crown until 1711.

Max Emanuel will now rule a small and 'independent' state formed by Namur and Luxembourg . The Bavarian Elector is celebrated in the city, from where he will now rule. A Council of State and a Council of Finance are established while Max Emanuel takes up residence in the old count's residence (today's courthouse). From 1713, however, the Bavarian monarch no longer resided in Namur and with the peace that ended the Spanish succession struggle a year later , Namur became part of the Austrian Netherlands.

 

In the meantime, the Barrier tract (1697) stipulates that Dutch troops will be stationed in the city: between 1715 and 1782 thousands of soldiers are involved. In the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748), Namur is once again the victim of a French siege (1746-1748), but after the Peace of Aachen the garrison of the Republic returns. The Dutch made slight changes to the fortress in the 18th century, but the situation remains largely that of the 1690s.

 

Economy, religion and architecture

In 1662 Namur is populated by about 11 300 inhabitants. In addition to a small number of nobles and a limited administrative elite, we mainly find merchants and craftsmen in the city. In early modern Namur, only a quarter of the population seems to be active in sectors such as tanning , brewing or glass blowing . One explanation for this is the massive presence of clerics in Namur. As early as the 16th century, new orders, such as the Friars Minor , established themselves in the city. In the 17th century Jesuits , Benedictines , Dominicans , Discalced Carmelites arrived thereand others at. These orders mainly settle on the site between the old medieval wall and the large wall. At the end of the 17th century, two thirds of the area intra muros was occupied by religious orders and clerics.

In the 16th century, the old cabaret des échevins had to make way for a new building and the platform also disappeared . Cityscapes from that period show Namur as a densely built-up city around the confluence of Sambre and Maas , but more to the north one can also find gardens and orchards. In the 17th century, a baroque-style church dedicated to Saint-Loup was built. The Vleeshal is being rebuilt and the Grand Hôpital, today the Walloon parliament building , also dates from this time.

The city does not get its current appearance until 1720 and especially from 1750. To beautify the city, a number of pumps are placed, some trees are planted and (ornamental) gates are built. Many houses are rebuilt in stone, while the upper classes have several hôtels (such as the Hôtel Groesbeeck de Croix) built. Various new churches are being built, including a new cathedral. While the bell tower of the old Gothic Saint-Aubain remains, the Italian Gaetano Matteo Pisoni (1713-1782) designed a completely new building, which will be centrally located in a completely redesigned district.

Names during the time of revolution
At the time of the United Dutch States (1790), Namur played a role for a short time in the defense against the Austrian armies, which gather in Luxembourg . The Austrians soon regained possession of Namur and the Southern Netherlands , but in 1792 they were expelled by a French invasion. In 1793 the Austrians already returned until after the French victory at Fleurus (1794) Namur came under French control again. The attachment of the Southern Netherlands to France in 1795 brought an end to feudal rights. In Namur religious orders disappear and old religious institutions (hospitals, orphanages, ...) are now under urban management. The destruction of the cathedralis promised, but the church, which was only a few decades old, is ultimately preserved for the cult of reason. The administration of the newly created department of Sambre en Maas is housed in the Namur episcopal palace.

Already in 1782-1783, six kilometers of defensive walls were demolished in Namur, and in 1784 the castle was also touched. This is done in the context of a larger Austrian plan to dismantle the fortresses in the Southern Netherlands , thus ensuring neutrality and allowing the cities to flourish economically. From 1794, the French ordered the complete demolition of the Namur fortresses. The project to build promenades inside and outside the old wall, which dates back to Austrian times , is being dusted off.

In 1814 Namur was liberated for the first time by Prussian armies from the French occupying forces, but Napoleon was not finally defeated in Waterloo until 1815. After Waterloo, some French troops flee back to France via Namur. The Prussians lay siege to Namur for some time and the French can eventually build up some lead before moving on. With the formation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830), conceived as a buffer state against a possibly expanding France, Namur regains its old strategic position. Measures are taken to prevent the further deterioration of the fortifications, which have in the meantime become ruin, bastionsare being rebuilt and canals deepened. Namur thus becomes one of the strongest fortresses in the new state.

 

As the capital of its own province , Namur has been primarily an administrative center since 1815 . In 1826 the construction of a new town hall in neoclassical style is started. As a bishop's city and with the presence of a seminary and other religious institutions, there is also a strong Catholic presence. The Namur economy is mainly formed by trade and a few small industries. At the time of the French occupation, Namur first benefited from the continental system. There is the faience shop in Saint-Servais , Namur knives are famous and the city is home to more printers than ever. But after the blockade ends, the urban economy gets more difficult and poverty rises.

From provincial capital to regional capital
A nineteenth-century provincial town
The outbreak of an uprising in Brussels at the end of August 1830 led to several riots in Namur. They oppose the troops of General Van Geen , who threatened to bombard the city, but eventually the 'Dutch' troops left Namur at the beginning of October. Namur is now becoming a quiet provincial town in the new Belgium. Until the 1870s it was the turn of Catholics, between 1876 and 1890 there was a liberal mayor. In 1911, a liberal-socialist cartel took power in the city.

In about a century, the Namur population doubles to 30,000 inhabitants. From the 1870s onwards, streets are built in Salzinnes , a suburb that will grow strongly in the coming decades. Just like in other 19th-century cities, the population in Namur is also ravaged by poverty, poor housing and hygiene and accompanying epidemics. In the 1840s there were already some initiatives to combat poverty; under mayor Emile Cuvelier (1879-1890), homeless people are sheltered and work is done on a water supply.

19th century Namur will never become a major industrial center; the economic emphasis remains on small businesses and the still famous Namur knife factory. A first railway reached the city in 1843, followed by new connections to Liège , Arlon , Dinant , Brussels and later Tienen in the following decades. Namur thus develops into a real railway center between the major industrial basins of Liège and the Borinage . In 1846, only 5% of the population was active in the industry, but that share evolved to 11% twenty years later, mainly due to the development of the glass industry. By the end of the century, the Namur glass and crystal factories will employ about 1,000 workers. A central railway workshop will also be built in Salzinnes .

An explanation for the long delay in industrial development is the fact that Namur remains enclosed in a wall for a long time. From 1860, the walls are no longer just an economic obstacle, with the renewed warfare and the end of patents , they also lose their function. In the following years, walls and gates were torn down and boulevards built around the city. There will be a new station (1864) and a new theater building (1868). In the 1880s Emile Cuvelier had big plans to beautify and modernize his city. Towards the end of the 19th century, a tram track was built and the city acquired the citadel , which it will develop as a tourist attraction.

Two world wars, Walloon capital
As early as 1914, the center of Namur, including the town hall, was badly hit in the First World War . After the war, the rebuilding of the center begins (the town hall has since moved to the Hôtel Kegeljan in the rue de Fer). In 1934, the Bourse de Commerce on the newly formed Place d'Armes was completed.

At the start of the Second World War , a bombing raid hit Namur: dozens of people died and many choose to flee the city. In 1941, 1943 and especially 1944 (when a bombing raid causes more than 300 victims) there are new air raids, especially on the station and the Maas bridges. The old Vleeshal is also seriously damaged.

In the post-war period, more and more old neighborhoods were demolished, including those on the Grognon (1973). In the post-war spirit, a number of houses on the Place d'Armes have already been demolished several buildings: they have to make way for a modern supermarket. From the end of the 1970s, however, the tide turned and the restoration of the old rue des Brasseurs began. During that period, a new administrative center and a new university campus will also be built on the outskirts of the city

 

Just before the First World War, Namur became the meeting place of the Assemblée walonne , an informal parliament in which Jules Destrée plays a role. When a few years later the German occupier implemented the administrative separation , the Walloon administration settled in Namur. The institutions are housed in the court of justice, schools and barracks. Namur has therefore been a center for the Walloon movement for some time .

After the creation of the Walloon Region , the first regional institutions were housed in the city from the early 1970s. In 1978 an agreement was reached between the mayors of the four largest Walloon cities to make Namur the political capital of Wallonia. After this, more and more government cabinets move to Namur and in 1979 parliament also moves to Namur. The parliamentary assembly first settles in a hotel and later in the stock exchange building on the Place d'Armes. In 1986, Parliament passed a decree officially proclaiming Namur the capital of the Walloon Region. In the mid-1990s, a competition is held for the design of a new parliament building and there is also a referendum. After a lot of debate, parliament finally decided to sit in the old Hospice Saint-Gilles . Only in 2010 will it be laid down in a decree that Namur is the only seat of the Walloon Parliament and the Walloon government.

 

Destinations

The old town has many monuments and museums, such as:
The Halle al'Chair (meat house), built in 1590 , which has housed an archaeological museum since 1855
Behind the meat house is the Grognonpoort from 1728
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Harscamp) from the 18th century
The belfry , originally a tower from a medieval wall ( 1388 ), rebuilt in 1450 and restored in 1753
The Saint Joseph Church from around 1650
Musée Félicien Rops with the work of the artist Félicien Rops
Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois with medieval art and the church treasure of Oignies
The Hotel de Croix, former retreat of the Abbey of Villers , rebuilt in the 1750s - 1752 . There a curious old school building from the 16th century
The St Aubin's Cathedral , built between 1751 and 1772 in classical style. The tower is older ( 13th century ; has 50 bells) and belongs to the former cathedral that once stood here; the interior includes a wrought iron choir screen from 1744 . The treasury has a rich collection of gold and silverware from the Meuse valley.
The Saint-Loup church , built between 1621 and 1645 , in Baroque style
St. John the Baptist Church, the oldest church in the city, originally from the 13th century (in Gothic style ), greatly renovated during the Renaissance in 1616 ; the tower dates from 1270 and was restored in the years 1616 and 1890
The citadel of Namur , located at an altitude of 100 meters above the Meuse , was once a strategic point, controlled by the Romans , among others , and from the 10th - 11th century fortress of the Counts of Namur . In 1893 the entire complex was handed over to the state. The entire complex was rebuilt by the Dutch between 1816 and 1825 . This is also the largest citadel in all of Europe.
The Hospice Saint-Gilles , current Walloon Parliament building on the Grognon, at the foot of the citadel. The building used to serve as a hospital
The Royal Theater from the 19th century
The Hollandse Brug from 1820 in the Louise-Mariepark

Namur also has a few museums, the oldest of which is the Musée archéologique (founded around the middle of the 19th century). In this museum, the Société archéologique de Namur (SAN, founded in 1845) brings together its archaeological finds. The Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois (see above) is the medieval and early modern counterpart of the Musée archéologique and, like the latter, is managed by the SAN. In the Musée Groesbeeck de Croix, also managed by the Société archéologique, the visitor will find furniture, woodwork and crockery from the early modern period. The museum also has a garden.

The aim is to create a museum district by 2012 between rue Joseph Saintraint and rue Fumal, near the cathedral. In addition to a former chapel in the rue Saintraint (in turn a neighbor of the Musée Groesbeeck de Croix), a new building will be built to house the new Musée archéologique. The archaeological museum will then leave the old Vleeshal on the bridge over the Sambre, where it has been located since 1856. The new museum complex will be adjacent to the Musée Félicien Rops and the Maison de la Poésie in rue Fumal. The museums on the so-called Îlot des Bateliers will be linked together.

 

Outside the city, on the Sambre river are the ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Salzinnes , founded in the 13th century , abolished during the French Revolution in 1796 . They can still be viewed today