Namur has been shaped by its strategic military position on the rivers. The Celts first established a fortification here, and later the Romans set up camp. In the Middle Ages, the counts of Namur built a well-protected castle on the craggy rocks overlooking the rivers. Under Spanish rule in the 1640s, the castle was strengthened and thus brought to the attention of the French, who captured the town in 1692; Louis XIV’s renowned military engineer Vauban set about redesigning and rebuilding it as the perfect fortification. During the next hundred or so years, the fort was razed and rebuilt, this time by Dutch military prowess.
In WWI, the so-called impregnable fort was taken within three days of the German invasion. With a history like this, there was no way WWII could pass Namur by; the town was bombed and extensively damaged. Its military connections continued right up until 1977, when Belgian army paratroopers packed up and moved out of the citadel.
Although Namur is far from being Wallonia’s largest city, it proudly holds the seat of the Conseil de la Région Wallonne, the region’s parliament, housed in a former hospice beside the Meuse River.