Where Limberg, the district of Herve and the foothills of the Ardennes meet extends the industrial town of Verviers, on the slopes of the valley of the Vesdre which flows through it, about half way between Liège and Aachen. Fine civic buildings testify to the prosperity of the town when the woolen industry was flourishing; even today Verviers still has a textile technical school.
The traffic junction in the heart of Verviers on the left bank of the river is the Place Verte, from which the Crapaurue, the principal street, leads to the Hôtel de Ville in the Place du Marché which is flanked by beautiful Baroque and Roccoco houses. This freestanding building in the Classical style dates from the 18th C. and is one of the most elegant of its kind in Belgium. In front of the Town Hall is a perron (raised platform) dating from 1732.
Museum of Archaeology and Folklore
Further to the north of the town center in the Rue des Raines there are still a number of fine old burghers' houses dating from the 16th-18th C. which testify to the town's former prosperity. House No. 42, the Maison Cornet, contains the Musée d'Archéologie et du Folklore.Commemorated in the Grand Salon is the violinist Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) who was born in Verviers. The second story is devoted to archaeological finds from the surroundings.
Opening hours: 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm; Closed: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
Museum of Archaeology and Folklore Lace
The museum's greatest treasure is the wonderful collection of lace from all parts of Belgium; also of great interest are the rooms on the ground and first floors, as well as the Grand Salon in Dutch style and the Salon Louis XIII with three artistic secretaires.
Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Céramique
In a former 17th C. hospice for elderly men in Rue Renier which branches off the Rue des Raines is the interesting Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Céramique. On the ground floor is exhibited an excellent collection of faience and porcelain from the most important European factories and also china; in other rooms and on the first floor is a considerable collection of pictures including a fine portrait of a child with a lace hood by Cornelis de Vos and works by Pieter Pourbus, Guido Reni and Frans Snyders, as well as more modern paintings by René Magritte and Paul Delvaux; in the courtyard is a lapidarium and in the basement sculptures.
To the west by the river stands the 18th C. Church of Notre-Dame which was the destination of a pilgrimage in honor of the Black Madonna sculpture of 1692. The tower has a fine carillon of 40 bells.
Musée de la Laine
About 7km/4.5mi northeast of Verviers is the little town of Limbourg built on a hill. It was situated on the route between Bruges and Cologne and until the Battle of Worringen in 1268 was the chief town of the former Duchy of Limbourg but then it fell to Brabant. Because of its strategic importance it was subsequently fortified but suffered several sieges, especially heavy ones by Louis XIV and in 1703 by the Duke of Marlborough who destroyed the ducal castle which had been built about 1000 in the upper town.The circular path along the old town walls leads around the upper town and offers fine views. Of interest is the Gothic Eglise Saint-Georges, of which the predecessor was the 12th C. castle chapel, and this in turn was built above a Romanesque crypt. The church received its present form in the 14th and 15th C.
Viaduc de Dolhain
Not far from Limbourg the Vesdre is spanned by the 20m/66ft-high viaduct of Dolhain which was completed in 1843.
Abbaye de Val-Dieu
Nestling picturesquely in the valley of the Berwinne is the Abbaye de Val-Dieu which is reached on a 15km/9.5mi drive via Thimister and Aubel north of Verviers. The abbey was founded around the year 1215 and was very prosperous. Of special interest in the present buildings, which are inhabited by Cistercians, are the refectory, the guest house of 1732 and the Renaissance choirstalls in the abbey church.