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  DINANT : History and monuments
 
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THE 'COUQUE DE DINANT'

The most typical souvenir of Dinant is the famous 'Couque', a rather hard cookie that can be bought in different shapes and sizes. Legend has it that the people of Dinant started to throw hard and stale cookies at the neighbours from the village Bouvignes, with whom they had frequent disputes and quarrels. Soon, baking hard cookies turned into a Dinant tradition. One of the main ingredients in today's couque is honey. Be careful for your teeth !


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The Notre Dame church in Dinant with its onion-shaped tower.Dinant lies in the beautiful, rocky and peaceful landscape of the Meuse Valley. The past, however, has not often been peaceful. Because of its strategic situation on the Meuse river, Dinant has witnessed several battles and destructions that changed the historic heritage considerably.

The main monument in the city center is the Notre Dame church (Our Lady's Church). It was built as a Romanesque church at the end of the 12th century. When in 1227 a part of the rock behind the church destroyed the tower, the Notre Dame church was partially rebuilt in Gothic Style. This new construction is still the dominating style of the choir and the northern transept. (Side-remark : in 1995 again a part of the rock destroyed a few houses on the left side of the church) In 1466 Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy and his son Charles the Bold punished an uprising in Dinant by setting fire to the city. 800 citizens were thrown in the Meuse river and a part of the church was destroyed. Originally, the church should have been crowned with two majestic towers. It soon became obvious that Dinant could never (financially ? ) cope with this plan and, therefore, the main entrance was crowned with a 68m high onion-shaped tower that, still today, serves as a landmark of the Dinant skyline. Inside the church are several religious objects, made in 'dinanderie'. Dinant became the late-medieval  center for the manufacturing of metal and copper objects. Most religious metal objects in the churches of the Meuse-Rhine valley originate from Dinant.

View over the Citadel.Above the church the mighty 'Citadel' (fortification) dominates the city. The citadel was built in the 11th century to overlook and control the Meuse valley. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 1530 by the bishops of Liege. The French troops destroyed it again in 1703. Later, in the 19th century the Dutch troops rebuilt it in the present style. Also during the 1st World War battles took place inside this fortress which now serves as a museum and can be visited.

The first World War did not pass unnoticed in Dinant. Again, the city was destroyed and numerous inhabitants were killed. During one of the battles a French lieutenant was wounded here in Dinant. After the war, the new bridge spanning the river in the center of the city was named after him : the CHARLES DE GAULLE bridge.

The restored Dinant is now a major tourist city for one-day trippers who can enjoy a multitude of very varied tourist attractions.

THE LEGEND OF THE BAYARD HORSE

Le rocher BayardOutside of the city is a rock, called 'le rocher Bayard' (the Bayard rock). It stands The four Aymon brothers sitting on the Bayard Horse.completely separated  from the rest of the main rock of which it obviously used to be a part. The Rocher Bayard was separated with an explosion to provide passage for the  French troops of Louis XIV after they had taken Dinant. However, popular belief has it that the rock was split by the hoof of the giant Bayard Horse, when it jumped from here over the Meuse river. The Bayard horse is a legendary animal from the story of the four Aymon Brothers. These four brothers were on the run for Charlemagne and escaped through the Ardennes sitting on the back of the Bayard Horse.


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