The citadel, the collegiate church and the Meuse


Coat of arms

Location in Belgium

Coordinates: 50°16′N 04°55′E / 50.267°N 4.917°E / 50.267; 4.917Coordinates: 50°16′N 04°55′E / 50.267°N 4.917°E / 50.267; 4.917
Country Belgium
Community French Community
Region Wallonia
Province Namur
Arrondissement Dinant
  Mayor Richard Fournaux (LDB)
  Governing party/ies LDB
  Total 99.80 km2 (38.53 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2016)[1]
  Total 13,494
  Density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
Postal codes 5500, 5501, 5502, 5503, 5504
Area codes 082
Website www.dinant.be

Dinant (French pronunciation: [di.nɑ̃]) is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse in the Belgian province of Namur. It is around 90 kilometres (56 mi) south-east of Brussels, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-east of Charleroi, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Namur and 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Givet (France).

The municipality includes the old communes of Anseremme, Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, Dréhance, Falmagne, Falmignoul, Foy-Notre-Dame, Furfooz, Lisogne, Sorinnes, and Thynes.


Dinant is positioned in the Upper Meuse valley at a point where the river cuts deeply into the western Condroz plateau. Sited in a steep sided valley between the rock face and the river, the original settlement had little space to grow away from the river, and it therefore grew, into a long thin town on a north-south axis along the river shore. During the 19th century the former Île des Batteurs (Drummers' Island) to the south was attached directly to the town when a branch of the river was filled in.

Dinant has been enriched by the agricultural opportunities presented by the fertile of the land on the plateau that overlooks it. Within the town, brassware production is a traditional craft that has benefited from the presence of the broad and, at this point, easily navigable river which has provided for easy delivery of the raw materials and ready distribution of the resulting products emerging from the artisans' workshops. Another traditional source of wealth is provided by the limestone cliffs overlooking the town, which supported a high-end quarrying industry, producing black marble and bluestone, with the proximity of a relatively wide and deep navigable river facilitating distribution.


Origins to the 10th century

The name Dinant comes from the Celtic Divo-Nanto, meaning "Sacred Valley" or "Divine Valley"; it can also be translated as "Celestial Gorge" or "Luminous Gorge" (as in modern Welsh Nant Dwyfol).

The Dinant area was already populated in Neolithic, Celtic, and Roman times. The first mention of Dinant as a settlement dates from the 7th century, when Saint Perpete, bishop of Tongeren, which at the time had its capital in Maastricht, took Dinant as his residence and founded the church of Saint Vincent. In 870, Charles the Bald gave part of Dinant to be administered by the Count of Namur, the other part by the bishop of Tongeren, which was by that time based in Liège.

In the 11th century, the emperor Henry IV granted several rights over Dinant to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, including market and justice rights. From that time on, the city became one of the 23 ‘‘bonnes villes’’ (or principal cities) of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The first stone bridge on the Meuse and major repair to the castle, which had been built earlier, also date from the end of the 11th century. Throughout this period, and until the end of the 18th century, Dinant shared its history with its overlord Liège, sometimes rising in revolt against it, sometimes partaking in its victories and defeats, mostly against the neighbouring County of Namur.

Late Middle Ages

Its strategic location on the Meuse exposed Dinant to battle and pillage, not always by avowed enemies: in 1466, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, uncle of Louis de Bourbon, Prince-Bishop of Liège, and Philip’s son Charles the Bold punished an uprising in Dinant during the Liège Wars, by casting 800 burghers into the Meuse and setting fire to the city. The city's economic rival was Bouvignes, downriver on the opposite shore of the Meuse.

Late Medieval Dinant and Bouvignes specialised in metalwork, producing finely cast and finished objects in a silvery brass alloy, called dinanderie and supplying aquamaniles, candlesticks, patens and other altar furniture throughout the Meuse valley (giving these objects their cautious designation "Mosan"), the Rhineland and beyond.

Henri Pirenne gained his doctorate in 1883 with a thesis on medieval Dinant.

The Old Regime and World War I

Dinant's destruction in World War I

In the 16th- and 17th-century wars between France and Spain, Dinant suffered destruction, famine and epidemics, despite its neutrality. In 1675, the French army under Marshal François de Créquy occupied the city. Dinant was briefly taken by the Austrians at the end of the 18th century. The whole Bishopric of Liège was ceded to France in 1795. The dinanderies fell out of fashion and the economy of the city now rested on leather tanning and the manufacture of playing cards. The famous couques de Dinant also appeared at that time.

The city suffered devastation again at the beginning of the First World War. On the 15 August 1914, French and German troops fought for the town in the Battle of Dinant (1914), among the wounded was Lieut. Charles de Gaulle. On 23 August, 674 inhabitants were summarily executed by Saxon troops of the German Army the biggest massacre committed by the Germans in 1914. Within a month, some five thousand Belgian and French civilians were killed by the Germans at numerous similar occasions.[2]


Gastronomic culture

Couques de Dinant at a Dinant bakery


Dinant's railway station is on the left bank of the river. There is hourly train service to Brussels, about a 90-minute ride.[3]

Born in Dinant

Twin cities and twinning

See also


  1. Population per municipality as of 1 January 2016 (XLS; 397 KB)
  2. Horne, John; Kramer, Alan (2001). Conclusion and Perspectives. German Atrocities, 1914: A History of Denial. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 419. ISBN 0-300-08975-9. Retrieved 8 November 2015 via books.google.com.au. ... we have confirmed the official wartime estimates that some 6,500 civilians were killed in Belgium and France from August to October 1914.
  3. "Brussels to Dinant: Train times and train tickets". www.thetrainline-europe.com. Trainline International Ltd. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
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