A colorful jewel on the banks of the Meuse River in what is called the Meuse Valley, the Belgian city of Dinant is a must see for travelers who are wandering through Belgium and looking for small towns with a long history and quaint charm.
Dinant is situated along a thin strip of land along the Meuse River, where a large outcropping of limestone rock hangs over the river shores. Because of the way the thin shores quickly ascend to the hills and mountains above, Dinant and its city center is also very thin and long, growing along the river to the north and south.
The History of Dinant, Belgium
Dinant can trace its roots back as far as the 7th Century, with the valley being inhabited by Celtic and Roman cultures; though the true Dinant that we know today can be considered founded around the 11th Century, when King Henry IV gave rights to the land to the Prince-bishop of Leige.
The name Dinant comes from a form of the Celtic term “Divo-Nanto — which can be roughly translated to the Divine Valley. From this time, the city was always considered fairly sovereign to the rest of Europe until World War I, when it was fought over in the Battle of Dinant. During this battle, a young lieutenant by the name of Charles de Gaulle was wounded — that lieutenant would later become one of the most famous men in all of Europe, President of the French Republic, and Co-Prince of Andorra. During WWI the city was very heavily damaged and much rebuilding was done throughout the rest of the 20th Century.
Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant
The most well known and recognizable landmark in Dinant is the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant. Originally built as a Romanesque style church, the church took much damage over the years from simple wear and tear and a number of large rocks and boulders falling from the cliffs above. The church was re-built in 1227 in the Gothic style that can be seen today.
The Citadel of Dinant, Belgium
Set upon the “Rocher,” the outcropping rock ledge above the town, is the Citadel of Dinant. Originally constructed in the 11th Century, the Citadel has seen versions — being rebuilt to protect the Meuse Valley any time weapons of war and military advancements were made. The lates installment was built in 1821, when Dinant was considered part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Today, travelers can take a cable car directly from the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant to the Citadel.
The Charles de Gaulle Bridge in Dinant, Belgium
The main bridge of Dinant, this humble bridge carries residents and travelers from one side of the river to the other, and offers gorgeous views of both the river below, and the valley as it sweeps upward into the hills on either side.
Dinant’s official dish is call the Flamiche Dinantaise; much like a quiche, this dish is made with a puff pastry shell and filled with cream, leeks, butter, eggs and an artisan cheese called: boulette de Romedenne.” If you are traveling through Dinant, your trip will not be complete without tasting this delicious dish alongside a local burgundy wine.