Liege Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Liege
Liège (Flemish Luik), the third largest town in Belgium, is situated on the confluence of the Meuse (Maas) and the Ourthe. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of French- speaking Wallonia, seat of a university and of a bishop, and owing to its locational advantages and long tradition an important industrial center with one of the largest inland ports in Europe.
Liège was one of the first places on the continent to start mining coal, thereby creating the base for the coal and steel industry, to which has been added a range of other manufacturing industries. Today more than 200,000 workers are employed in mining, blast furnaces, steel (40 per cent of Belgian steel production), textiles, food, electrical equipment, chemical products, glassware (famous glass production in Val Saint-Lambert), not forgetting weapons manufacture ('FN' small arms from the Fabrique Nationale in Herstal). Liège is the home of the author Georges Simenon, who immortalized the town in his work, and enjoys increasing importance as a place of research and science (university, technical colleges and institutes).Liège is at the junction of important international roads and railroad lines and an important trade center for inland river traffic, which in recent years has suffered considerable losses: the waterways of the Rhine and Ruhr, the Albert Canal, which links the Scheldt with the Meuse, and the canals crossing Hainaut from France, unite in Liège and continue into the Netherlands. The inland port covers 97ha/239 acres and can accommodate ships up to 2,500 tons. There is also a yachting marina. Liège is not a particularly attractive town, considering the devastation it has suffered throughout its history and only has a few buildings of historic interest. However, the town's long history is documented in the many churches which avoided destruction and in its many museums, which range among the best in the country.According to legend Liège developed around a chapel which St Hubert, Bishop of Tongeren- Maastricht, had built in 705 on the spot where his predecessor, St Lambert, was murdered. In 721 Hubert moved the seat of his bishopric from Tongeen to Liège, but it was under Bishop Notker (972-1008), who elevated the bishopric to the status of a principality, that the town and region began to prosper. In contrast to the Flemish towns, the citizens of the Prince-Bishopric, which belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, were involved in bitter quarrels with the bishop over their freedom, as his first allegiance was to the Catholic church. The internal feuds of the 13th and 14th C. were characterized by revolts against the rulers who tried to compromise and called for calm; as did Johann of Bavaria, appointed bishop in 1390, leader of a ruthless régime until 1417. At this time of turmoil the metallurgical industry was beginning to develop. Catastrophe befell Liège when in the 15th C. the Dukes of Burgundy, who had already acquired the rest of Belgium, attempted to take the principality, but came up against heavy opposition from the population. In 1467 the troops of Charles the Bold took the city and its fortifications were razed. The city rose again, but not even the efforts of 600 Franchimontois to break the siege could prevent the town being stormed, plundered and set ablaze again. The city burned for seven weeks and Charles the Bold ordered that only the churches and monasteries should survive the fire. It was not until 1475 that the citizens of Liège received permission to rebuild their town. With his death in 1477 they regained their independence which they again had to defend against Guillaume de la Marck. Under the prince bishop, Erard de la Marck (1505-1538), a new period of prosperity began coinciding with the work of Liège's greatest painter, Lambert Lombard (1505-1566). In the same century, as well as later, there was new progress as a result of coal mining and weapons manufacture. Repeated power struggles between the guilds, made powerful by industry, and the prince bishops ended this time with the victory of the bishops; several mayors were sent to the scaffold in the 17th C. One of the most important sculptors of the 17th C., Jean Delcour (1631-1701), lived here at this time. Only 100 years later the French Revolution put an end to the ecclesiastical domination and for a short time Liège was the capital of the French département of Ourthe. In the 19th C., in particular since the founding of Belgium as an independent country, Liège began to develop into an important industrial city which found expression in its urban architecture. In 1889 the Fabrique Nationale was founded.In the First World war Belgian regiments in Liège held off the advance of the German army long enough for the French and remaining Belgian troops to form. In 1939 the Albert Canal was opened. At first Liège sustained little damage during the Second World War, but following the withdrawal of the German occupying forces between November 1944 and January 1945 it was the target of over 1500 V2 rockets which damaged or destroyed over 23,000 buildings. In recent times Liège has been affected by the crisis in the steel industry. Local government employees fearful of their salaries sought to bring attention to their demands by drastic action: firemen occupied public buildings and did not put out fires, civil servants threw mountains of files out of the offices onto the streets and the police supported it all by benevolent non-intervention.Liège has shown some signs of economic recovery with borders opening up within the EU, new shopping centres being built and significant nightlife that attracts residents and tourists alike. The city is also an educational hub with over 42,000 students attending more than 24 schools.
Guided tours and trips on the Meuse
Guided tours are organized by the tourist office. A brochure is available with a city walk following the steps of Georges Simenon and information on boat trips on the Meuse (including Visé).
Pays de Liege
A cruise along the Meuse from Liege to Maastrict.
The best views over the city are from the Citadel and the Parc de Cointe to the south, where the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (1936) and the immense Monument Interallié (Monument to the Allies in the First World War; 1937) can be seen.
Southern parts of the City
Continuing south of Rue St-Remy, a few attractions are of interest to visitors.
St Jacob's Church
South of the cathedral the Rue St-Remy comes to the church of Saint-Jacques (St Jacob's Church), founded in the 11th C. and converted to a splendid example of late Gothic architecture in 1513-1538. The Romanesque portico of 1170 on the west side has been preserved; the magnificent north portal was remodeled by Lambert Lombard in Renaissance style in 1558-1560, but leaving the relief below the arch of the Coronation of the Virgin (1380), a masterpiece of Mosan Gothic sculpture. Worth seeing inside the church are the superb vaulting, the rood- screen (17th C.) and the stained glass (1520-1540).
South of Saint-Jacques, the Parc d'Avroy is laid out on the site of an old harbor. In the north of the park is a massive statue of Charlemagne on horseback (1868), a few yards to the east, on the Boulevard Piercot, stands the Royal Conservatory of Music (1881-1886). Alongside the Meuse is an elevated terrace surrounded by a wall with four groups of bronze statues, among them the Bulltamer by L. Mignon and the Monument National de la Résistance (National Monument to the Resistance Fighters in the Second World War).
Map of Liege Attractions