Dinant, city by the Meuse

For a long time Dinant was one of the most important "Good Cities" of the prince-bishopric of Liège. The city was known for its coppersmiths, which was one of the main occupations of the time. Because of its wealth and its strategic location on the Meuse the city was on the important trade route that ran from Cologne to Paris. Dinat is also the birthplace of Adolphe Sax. The world famous instrument can be found all over the city as different artifacts.

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Things to surly visit in the city are: 'The House of Sax' (French: Maison de Monsieur Sax) it is a museum that focuses on the legacy of Adolphe Sax (1814-1894). Sax was an instrument builder who was mainly known as the inventor of the saxophone. The Collegiate Church Our Lady (French: Collégiale Notre-Dame), a collegiate church from the 13th century. The church is completely built from the gray limestone of Dinant. The citadel of Dinant. The citadel is built on a rock, near the city center, 100 meters higher than the water surface of the Meuse. Access to the citadel is ensured, among other things, by a cable car or you can climb a staircase dating back to 1577 with 408 steps, starting  in the city center.

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The citadel itself dates back to the 11th century. The first building on that location started around 1051, it was commissioned by prince-bishop Dietwin of Liège. The city and citadel were destroyed in 1466 during the Liege Wars by Charles the Bold. Prince Bishop of Liège Everhard van der Marck thoroughly expanded the citadel during the restoration in 1530, including adding a castle tower and a round half tower. At this time the citadel could house 500 soldiers. In 1675 the French, under captain and marshal of France François de Créquy, occupied the city and use the citadel as a defense base.

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The citadel was blown up in 1703 with the retreat of the French troops. Under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 the citadel returned to the Bishop of Liège. The last restoration was done from 1818 to 1821, from the period of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until the Belgian Revolution, the citadel was the berth of a Dutch garrison. In the First World War, in August 1914, heavy fighting took place between German and French soldiers.  Today a historical and weapon museum has been on display since the end of the Second World War.

The basilica of Scherpenheuvel

The town of Scherpenheuvel has been an important pilgrimage site for Catholic believers since the 16th century and is still the most visited pilgrimage site in Belgium. The small Basilica of the town is called 'The basilica Our Lady' and is implanted in the middle of the town on a hill. The church is visible on a hilltop far into the perimeter. A legend of a miraculous old wooden Our Lady's statue, dating back the the 14th century, is at the origin of this pilgrimage church. On the hilltop there was an oak tree that had the shape of a cross. A pious man then hung a statue of Mary on the oak and from then on many people came to pray. When a servant of a shepherd wanted to take the figurine with him, he was, according to the legend, nailed to the ground until a visitor placed the figurine back on the tree.

After some wooden churches the building of the current basilica was commissioned by the archdukes Albrecht en Isabella in 1609, it was designed by architect Wenceslas Cobergher.

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The basilica is surrounded by a beautiful and special seven-sided square. Behind the Basilica there is a park. There is also the remarkable water well. On the square you can find a candle chapel and many stalls with souvenirs, local produced foods and beverages.

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You can find the  basilica at this address: Scherpenheuvel-Zichem.

The best mustard in the world

In the historical center of Ghent, you can find this lovely old store owned by the family Tierentetn-Verlent. It is the only store in the city that still makes its own mustard, a speciality in Ghent. The shop dates back to 1867, this was the year that the Tierenteyn-Verlent family settled there courant address,  'Groentemarkt 3'. The store has changed little since then and the building and its interior has been a protected monument since 1995. A visit to the store therefore feels a bit like traveling back in time ... The house even has its original name 'La Demi Lune' meaning 'the half moon'.

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Even the way the mustard is made hasn't changed, the finely ground mustard is pumped into the store from the basement where it is made in a wooden barrel. Here, she is then scooped out in the hand-turned stone jars or glass jars before the eyes of the customer. It is considered to be the best mustard in the world.

The store is also known for its pickles (candied fruit with mustard oil), sour onions and pickles, vinegars and much more! So visiting Ghent? Here is a change to visit something very original and to buy something unique.

You can find the store at this address: Groentemarkt 3, Ghent.