Citadelle de Namur
Located in Namur, Belgium
Photo © 2006 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Citadelle de Namur History
The city of Namur has always been a strategic location in the heart of Belgium, as it overlooks the important junction of the Sambre and Meuse Rivers. Construction of major defenses from attack began in 1542 when Emperor Charles V ordered work to begin on a bastioned trace around the town, and also transformed a castle that sat high above the town into a fortress (citadel).
Namur was to be overtaken by various sieges over the years, and the new occupants kept adding their own designs and improvements to the fortification. King Louis XIV of France invaded in 1692 and his military engineer rebuilt the citadel under his rule. Three years later, William III of England captured Namur during the War of the Grand Alliance. Under the Barrier Treaty of 1709, the Dutch gained control of the citadel and it was rebuilt once again.
France re-invaded in 1794 and annexed Namur to the country until the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, where Belgium was incorporated into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1830, the Belgium Revolution allowed the country to break away from the rule of the Netherlands and the citadel was rebuilt again in 1887.
The Germans invaded Namur during World War I in 1914, seeking to use the Meuse River as a route into France. Despite having the reputation of being impregnable, the citadel fell only three days of fighting, and the city was occupied for the rest of the war. Namur was also the front line of both the Battle of the Ardennes in 1940 and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, and suffered heavy damage in both events.
In 1975 The Minister or Defense gave the keys to the citadel to the town and the Belgian Army paratroopers left in 1977. It is now a public park where certain areas are accessible by tours, see the Citadelle de Namur website for more details.