When you first set foot in the Walloon city of Dinant, you can’t miss it. Looming over the buildings below, jutting straight out of the hillside, is the Dinant Citadel.
Although we had been to Dinant on many occasions, Andrew and I had never actually visited the famous citadel. This past weekend we decided it was high time we had a look.
There are two ways to get to the Citadel from the centre of Dinant. After purchasing your ticket, you can start to climb the 408 stairs. You may make it to the top in a few hours.
Andrew and I preferred to take the gondola that was conveniently included in our admission price. I’m not a huge fan of gondolas, and spend most of the ride trying not to imagine cables snapping and fiery crashes, but this one was thankfully quick and easy.
Once at the top, you are faced with, in my mind, the best part of the whole experience – the view. Even though it was a foggy November morning, when we visited, we could still see all of Dinant, as well as quite far up the Meuse River in both directions. On a clear day I’m sure the view would be even more spectacular and well worth the price of admission to the citadel.
Once we had sufficiently admired the view, we headed inside the citadel. We were greeted by an elderly gentleman and offered a pamphlet, in English, tracing the route and explaining the history of the Citadel. He lead us to the beginning of the self-guided tour and we set off to follow the numbered markers.
The citadel itself is impressive. It was built in the 11th century to control the Meuse valley. It was destroyed in 1466 by Charles the Bold but rebuilt by French engineer Vauban during Dinant’s occupation by Louise XIV’s troops, from 1675-1698. The Citadel was again destroyed and rebuilt in the early 1800s, by the Dutch.
During Belgium’s struggle for independence, the Citadel was occupied by Belgian partisans. It was finally demilitarised in 1878, but was still the scene of violent conflicts during both World Wars.
Unfortunately the citadel’s exhibits are quite dated and in need of a facelift. The dusty, bedraggled mannequins look like they have been on site since the time of the first Citadel.
Nonetheless, it is worth a quick stroll through the rooms while trying to image what life would have been like here. A tour of the entire citadel takes under an hour.
The is a small cafe and souvenir shop on site. Outside the citadel, on the other side of the lift, is a large play area for the children and a cafe with indoor and terrace seating.
The Dinant Citadel
Place Reine Astrid, 3-5
For more great castle articles, be sure to visit our Castles in Belgium page where you’ll find links to all of the castles in our little country.