Dinant is a cute town in Belgium. We passed through it this last weekend when we headed to Rochefort on a “beer pilgrimage” for my Trappist Beer loving husband, and I am so glad we took the time to stop.
This Citadel was built in the middle ages. Despite it’s high location, it has been taken over quite a few times. We were sent to explore without a tour guide, which was nice considering we were one of the only families there.
The view from the ramparts is the big selling point for the Citadel in all the pamphlets around town. It is a pretty view of the river Meuse, and I can just imagine how pretty it would be in the summer instead of the dead of winter.
The fortress looks a lot like the others we have visited. It is the smallest we’ve seen so far, but the kids loved seeing the cannons and other weapons they had in their armory collection. This Citidel has somewhat of a sad history- in 1466, 800 citizens of Dinant were tied up in pairs and thrown from the Citadel off the cliff into the river below as a punishment for a rebellion.
Part of the fortress was the prison, and this room, which contained a box of torture instruments, a table for cutting off prisoners hands, and a guillotine. I had never seen an actual guillotine in person, and I was surprised at how narrow it was and how small the blade was. It made me glad to have not been living back then. This room gave me the creeps. On our way out, we noticed that whomever set up the Citadel for tours had a sense of humor, because one of the mannequins had vampire fangs.
This Citadel also was a key player in WWI, which explains the multi-media faux trenches they added to the Citadel. Walking through them brings you back in time. The kids were very nervous to hear the “gunfire” over head as we wandered the trenches, but I think it was really helpful for Bug to see what the trenches were like “in action” after we spent so much time visiting the abandoned trenches and battle fields in the Flanders region.
After the trenches, we came to this underground bunker, which was hit by a shell in WWI, and ended up tilted about 30 degrees. Walking in the bunker felt awful! It was so disorienting, and I kept feeling like room was sliding out from under me. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be there when THAT happened. Walking the way Hubby is in the picture is just about the only way to get through the room.
If you’re in Dinant: Head to park at the top of the rock in the Citadel parking instead of trying to find parking in town to take the cable car up. There is no fee (or time limit!) to park at the top, and you can take the cable car down to see the town instead of visa versa. Beware that the Citadel is typically only accessible by guided tour, and this village, like many sleepy towns in Belgium doesn’t care much for organized hours. We arrived while it was open, but the tour guide wasn’t there (said with a shrug) and we were allowed to explore independently even though it was against the rules. Be prepared to wait, or ask sweetly to wander, and keep your fingers crossed!