More adventures in tourism! This time, I decided to go to Namur, partially because it had been recommended as a lovely city by family, and partly in the name of actually meeting the person who had invited me to give the paper at the conference on advocacy I mentioned when I ended up writing what would have been most of a fairly interesting paper, had I but known at the time. So I sent him an e-mail, and he very kindly agreed to spend several hours of his weekend showing me around Namur. So I’d like to thank Nicolas for that (and if you want to know more, you can follow his Twitter account at @nruffinironzani)!
Namur is in the valley of the Meuse, where it joins the Sambre, and it’s got, really, two parts to it. First is the town proper, down in the river valley; but overlooking the town is a rocky escarpment. This was an obvious place to build a castle, and indeed many regimes have done so over the years, starting with the tenth-century counts (because tenth century is best), and going all the way up to modern times. The current fortress is early modern – it wasn’t actually built by Vauban, but the tourist information boards did play up the connection.
Its setting is extremely impressive, and the views are lovely, but to get the most of it, you probably have to be more of a fan of eighteenth-century military architecture than I am.
Or of giant gold tortoises, which I admit may be more likely to generate consensus.
The cathedral is relatively new; certainly in the period with which I’m familiar(-ish) with Namur’s history, there wasn’t a bishop here. The building itself is Baroque, but we didn’t go in, because instead Nicolas recommended what turned out to be the highlight of the trip:
The Jesuit church of Saint-Loup.
I’m not usually one for Baroque, but this church was seriously gorgeous.
Only a quick post this week, because coming up is some more hard-core history. Having been swotting up on Aquitaine and Burgundy, it’s time to finally get some thoughts down about the tria regna of post-Carolingian France in comparative perspective…