Bouillon Tourist Attractions
In the south of the Belgian province of Luxembourg, close to the French border, Bouillon nestles prettily in a loop of the River Semois, encircled by the wooded heights of the southern Ardennes.
Dominated by its imposing castle, the small town is a popular summer resort and makes a lively center for excursions into the surrounding countryside. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking or canoeing are popular.Bouillon is closely linked in name and by history with Godfrey of Bouillon (Godefroy de Bouillon), the "most Christian of all knights".Because of its favored location Bouillon, principal town of the old Duchy of Lower Lotharingia, was for hundreds of years an important link between the Eifel and Champagne. It began life as a village which grew up in the shadow of Godfrey the Bearded's castle (started 1050). When, almost half a century later, the famous Godfrey of Bouillon left home to lead the First Crusade (1095), he mortgaged the castle to the Prince-Bishops of Liège who retained it, with one or two interruptions and in the face of challenges to their title by local noblemen, until the 17th C. After the French took over the region in 1676, Louis XIV gave the castle to the La Tour d'Auvergne family. Under their liberal patronage Bouillon developed in the 18th C. into a center of Enlightenment where the printer Pierre Rousseau was able to publish numerous avant-garde journals, as well as works by Mirabeau and Diderot which had been banned in France. The town eventually became part of Belgium in 1830.
Starting at the lower bridge, the Pont de Liège or Vieux-Pont, go along the left bank of the river past the church and up to the castle square from where there are some fine views. To the right is the entrance to the Château Fort (Fortified Castle), enthroned on its elevated "island" of rock overlooking the looping Semois on two sides. Built by Godfrey the Bearded between 1050 and 1067 on the remains of a still older fortress, the château is the earliest and best preserved example of medieval feudal architecture in Belgium. After Louis XIV's troops had taken over the castle, the fortifications were strengthened by Vauban. Further alterations were also made by the Dutch at the beginning of the 19th C.
Fortified Castle Tour
The castle, which contains some fine paintings, is entered over three drawbridges. The main courtyard then leads to the ducal palace with its 13th century Salle Godefroy de Bouillon. From there visitors climb up to the top of the 16th century Tour d'Autriche for a breathtaking panorama of the town and river, before making their way back via the torture chamber, cisterns and dungeons, and past the 65m/213ft deep well shaft.
The Musée Ducal (Ducal Museum), in a delightful 18th century town house below the north side of the castle square, has a refreshingly old-fashioned charm. The section on local history and folklore includes displays of craft work, old furniture and kitchen fittings as well as memorabilia relating to Bouillon's noble families and the printer Pierre Rousseau. There is also a section entitled "Godefroy de Bouillon" which, being devoted principally to the First Crusade, has among its exhibits some exceptionally lovely examples of Islamic craftsmanship. Works by the painter Albert Raty are exhibited in two side rooms.
Abbaye de Cordemoy
Picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Semois, the Abbaye de Cordemoy (Notre- Dame de Clairefontaine) is reached by taking the tunnel under the castle hill from the Porte de France, crossing the old Pont de Poulie and continuing westwards for about 3km/2mi.Founded in the 13th C. the abbey was burned down in 1794 and acquired its present Neo-Gothic character when last rebuilt in 1935.
La Crete des Cerfs
The animal park of Bouillon features a 45 minute walk in which bison, wild boars, deer and many more animals are waiting to be discovered.
Map of Bouillon Attractions