The charming city of Dinant is a Walloon (French-speaking) city snuggled up between the high rocky cliffs and the shore of the River Meuse. Dinant is well connected with the Belgian capital Brussels with a journey time of 90 minutes which makes it an easy day trip from Brussels.
As the train started to approach Dinant city the picturesque vistas of countryside cottages along the emerald color river flowing along the railway track were awe-inspiring. You know that you have arrived at the Dinant station when you are greeted with a picture-perfect view of the strikingly visible tulip bulb-shaped cathedral spire with a backdrop of rocky cliffs and citadel overlooking the charming town of Dinant and the River Meuse.
To reach the cathedral one has to cross over the river through a spectacular bridge Charles-de-Gaulle bedecked with colorful saxophone on both sides probably commemorating the fact that Dinant is the hometown of Adolphe Sax, the famous Belgian musician who invented saxophone.
1.Notre Dame de Dinant or The Collegiate Church of Our Lady
One of the major landmarks of the city the imposing pear-shaped or tulip bulb-shaped spire of the Collegiate Church of Our Lady with the city of Dinant and the River Meuse at its foot is a sight to behold. The church was rebuilt in the 13th century after been destroyed by a part of rock cliff destroying a previous church on this site. This church features remarkable stained glass, life-size statues, stone columns, and the large glass roof, which is one of the largest in Europe.
2. Dinant Caves or Grotte La Merveilleuse
The guided tour for around an hour in English, as well as Dutch, walks you through the gloomy yet intriguing caves backed by the phenomena of its existence. The temperature inside the caves is a constant 12 deg throughout the year and has an abundance of white stalactites and stalagmites well illuminated by lights.
It is believed that the location of caves was once an ocean, which explains the formations of the limestone rocks inside the caves.
The cave was discovered during a railway line construction and was handed over to geologists for further investigation. We walked through narrow paths and stairs and at a point space widened into a magnificent chamber where as per the guide musical concerts are hosted. There is a small stream at the third and lowest level of the cave, which originally formed the cave and is often flooded in winter and is believed that the stream joins the river in downtown after meandering through a course of 7 days. During the Second World War, the cave had served as a refuge to hundreds of civilians.
The tour costs around 9 euros and you can get a ticket combined with citadel or boat ride for a cheaper price.
3. La Citadelle Dinant
The fortified Citadel is perched on the rocky cliff overlooking the stunning panorama of the rooftops of the city of Dinant along the River Meuse and the pear-shaped Church spire.
The citadel was built in the 11th century to protect the Meuse valley. Visitors can choose to climb the stairs with 408 steps or take the cable car to enjoy breathtaking scenery on the town of Dinant during the ascend. The cable car is believed to be one of the shortest and steepest.
The Citadel is now home to Dinant’s Arms Museum, rooms depicting prisoners’ cells and torture room.
Various multimedia shows and audio shows walk visitors back in time and narrate the history of the town of Dinant. The citadel also has a playground for children, a gift shop, and a cafe.
4.Cruise or a leisurely Stroll
The land of Dinant is curled up in a steep valley between the high rocky cliffs and the fast flowing river and hence the city grew along the river. Strolling along the river taking in the wonderful views of the city and river is the best and relaxing way to explore the city. Or hop onto one of the cruises or ferries and explore the city attractions in Meuse valley and places of historical importance sailing on the River Meuse.
One can also choose to ride electric boats and explore the city on their own.
5. Couques de Dinant – the local special biscuits
Couques de Dinant is a hard biscuit made up of honey-flour or honey-flour-sugar. The large biscuits in different shapes and sizes have beautiful and interesting imprints carved on them. The lady at the shop instructed us not to bite into the cookie instead break off pieces and chew. True to her words the biscuits are real hard to bite and break.
One can also visit the Bayard rock, which is a 100ft. high needle standing between the road and the river and is another landmark feature of Dinant or Maison Leffe, which is an informative and interactive museum for Belgian beers.
Dinant also hosts various adventure activities like canoeing, rope bridges, nature walks, cross-country cycling and other adventures. More information here. Or plan to visit the unusual boat racing event held every year on August 15th on Meuse River, which also includes visitors showcasing homemade crafts and other local creations.
Have you been to Dinant, what other places do you recommend in Dinant? Share with us in comments.
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