Dinant: Birthplace of Adolph Sax & the Saxophone.

Before I left this morning, Adeline came to my room to tell me I had the rest of the day off, that I could stay out as long as I wanted, she would pick up Bastien. That was really cool! It also meant a I had a really exciting day. Not that my day wouldn’t have been exciting, but I got to do some really cool stuff.

When I got to Jean’s he hadn’t really had anything planned for the day, which was cool. I told him that I didn’t have to be back for a certain time if that might change anything. It did. We started looking for some stuff to go see and we chose the city of Dinant. It’s around an hour or so from Namur. We went for to see the Citadel and other things just sort of fell into place when we got there. Sometimes improvised days are the best.

It also wasn’t until we got there and saw the bridge covered in saxophones that Jean remembered this was also where Adolph Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, lived. I knew he lived in Belgium somewhere, but I had forgotten which city. We did three main things today. We went up to the Citadel and had a guided tour. We went to Adolph Sax’s house/museum (you don’t actually go in his house…it’s beside the museum). And finally, we went on a tour of a cave. We walked everywhere (except to where the cave was) and I walked up a LOT  of steps today. When I got home I went upstairs twice and my legs weren’t happy with me.

I think the best way to describe this day is to show you the pictures then add comments. That’s how I’m going to do it anyway, whether it’s the best or not! I’ll try to throw in a little history from what I remember and from the couple of pamphlets I have.

This is right around where we parked. When we first realized/remembered Adolph Sax! I realize they’re hard to see, but those are giants saxophones all along the bridge.

Giant saxophone!!!

The Gothic Our-Lady church and the Citadel. Remember Mini-Europe? Well, this is one of the models. On our way back from the cave I saw this from a distance and realized I recognized it. I asked Jean if it had a model in Mini-Europe, but he didn’t think it did. Turned out I was right. Boo yeah! Of course, all those other buildings aren’t in front of it in the model.

Remember when I said I walked up a lot of stairs? Well, to the top of the Citadel it’s 408. Fortunately there are many landings where you can rest and we were the only ones climbing up at the time. There was a group of school kids and a couple of families that took the tour at the same time as us, but I think they all took the cable car up or were up there a while before us. The staircase was actually built in 1577 and has survived until the present day.

This isn’t quite half way. I think. I don’t know. Pretty though, isn’t it?

Not there yet! I think at this point we’re almost there. Jean wanted to take a video of my climbing up the last few steps, so that’s what he did. He said I had a story to tell now, which is true. That pretty much the only reason I voted to climb up…to be able to say I did. I forgot to time it, but based on the time stamp on our receipt and the time it was when we got up, it was about 20min. Maybe only 17, because we didn’t exactly start the second the receipt was printed and I didn’t check the time until we had already been up there and checked when the next tour was. I’m going to say not even 20. No less than 15 would be my guess, but I don’t think 20. Taking breaks sure helped. All the walking I’ve been doing is mostly flat, so that didn’t help me here!

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. In 1466 he strapped 800 copper beaters together in two’s and through them into the river Meuse. Dinant’s main activity was manufacturing copper. Charles the Bold also at this time destroyed the castle and town. The castle was rebuilt in 1523.

I’ve skipped a lot here, and I already cut out 9 pictures from my original list! Ok. This isn’t mentioned in the pamphlet I got and I’m a little fuzzy on all the details so it’s going to be a very minimized version of events. The little cemetery on the right olds the ashes of around 58 or so soldiers. 12 German and the rest French. Not Belgian, French. The French soldiers had come to the Citadel to hide (I think) and they tried to find a ‘back door’, but quickly realized there wasn’t one. When the Germans came they easily slaughtered all the French soldiers there. The bodies weren’t found until 5 days later. Since they couldn’t bury them, they burned them and there rest their ashes. This is kind of like the main courtyard type area…the main entrance is off of it, as well as the dungeon.

That’s Freddy. We’ve just been locked into the dungeon. Haha, it’s only locked because there are areas you can only go into on a guided tour, so the guide has to unlock them for the tour and lock them back up as we go. I have a few more pictures of the dungeon area – check for them on Facebook!

The Dutch forge. I believe it was originally a dutch fortress. There was a castle here before it was a Citadel. It was from 1818 – 1821 that the castle was destroyed and the Citadel built by the Dutch. It was taken over by Belgian partisans in 1830 during the struggle for Belgium’s independence.

The bakery! Now, because this was a citadel and not a castle, everyone who lived/worked here was a soldier. The cooks, bakers, blacksmiths, everybody.

Self explanatory. It’s also the explanation of the next picture.

This is what I feel like sometimes trying to come up with a title for some of my posts. We starting to get into soldiers quarters here. I haven’t included any pictures of weapons or anything, but there was something interesting I want to mention. There were these guns – blunderbusses? – that flared out like a bell at the end. This allowed them to load any kind of ammo – rocks, nails, you name it. These and the extra longs guns that were also used at one point didn’t have much aim, but were effective because of all the crossfire. The church in front of the Citadel was destroyed and rebuilt many times – from both rock falls and war.

This is an explanation for the next picture. It was very strange walking through this room.

You couldn’t really tell from looking at it that it was going to be all wonky, but when you walked through it you noticed. You had to hold on to the railings because it really felt like you were going to fall over! The tour guide later said it was a gag for the tourists. It’s a great gag.

Our tour guide! He gave the tour in French and Dutch. He knew at least a bit of English because he said some to me, but he said it would be much too long to give the tour in all 3 languages. It was already an hour and I wouldn’t have wanted a longer tour with noisy kids :P. They actually weren’t bad. He was really funny. He made the tour very entertaining and engaging for the kids. He was very nice and gladly took the picture with me. Since Jean was translating for me our guide gave him another pamphlet that had more information. I was actually able to understand a bit of what he was saying! I wouldn’t have gotten everything, so it was nice Jean could translate for me, but it’s getting easier. ^_^

The Baritone Saxophone. First saxophone made!

Freddy and I chilling with Adolph. Sax of course :P.

The museum isn’t very big, but it’s neat because there’s a sax on the floor that starts out the door and covers almost the entire room. Thought thought it was cool.

The entrance to the cave…ooooo….The Grotte de Dinant ‘La Merveilleuse’. You know that school group I mentioned from the Citadel? Well, there were here for this as well! They give tours in French, Dutch, and English thankfully, but our guide only had to do it in English and French. There was that group, Jean and I, and another couple. Our guide had us go first, and every time one of the kids tried to get in front he wouldn’t let them. They all got to see the same things just as well, and you could hear well because the cave had great acoustics, so it wasn’t a big deal. I was the only one who wasn’t fluent in French, so with me upfront he didn’t have to project twice as much.

I got quite a few pictures inside. Unfortunately my battery was dying so I had to be careful. There would have been a couple more I would have taken. This was a waterfall. Of course, like most caves, this one was at one point filled with water. The cave was discovered in 1904 when they were building a tram (?) next to it which required leveling the ground. They found it while they were digging rock I guess. By 1905 it was open for business I believe.

I know this is super hard to see, but that’s the river down there. In January when they have snow (I don’t now if he was generalizing or if he meant this January) and then rain and the snow melts and the river rises, so does this one. 30 meters I think he said. The long gallery we had just walked through would have been filled with water. Actually, the streets of Dinant are almost level with the river, so flooding is very common.

Oh yeah, the end of the cave tour. Another 121 steps. Now, that doesn’t count all the steps we took down, or the one’s where we walked up to see something and then back down again. So I walked up over 529 steps today. Steep ones too. And in the cave we were at the front so I didn’t have the luxury of taking my time. Those last 5 were super hard. But I made it. When we left the Citadel we rode down, we cheated. But it was a lot easier.

What else to add? Hmmmm. The city itself was nice. We had lunch at a pizzeria. Gah, it’s so late I can’t concentrate!!! Well, you got the most important bits, that’s what counts. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

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