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Liège (province)

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Liège is the Walloon-Belgian province that surrounds the city of the same name. Though it has a somewhat grey image in surrounding countries, its relatively small area has a lot to offer visitors. The provincial capital's restaurants, nightlife, museums and architecture -- in combination with its varied natural surroundings -- provide enough material for an enjoyable short holiday.

Regions[edit]

The river Meuse, its tributary the Ourthe - which has its own tributaries in the Vesdre and Amblève - flow through the province, marking the border between a number of different regions that merge around the cities of Liège of Verviers:

Black = railway line, red = motorway.
Ardennes
Officially defined as the region to the south of the Vesdre (and to the south-east of Liège), the Ardennes - which stretch across 3 Belgian provinces and a part of France - are one of this part of Europe's wildest regions. The towns of Verviers, Spa, Durbuy, Malmedy and Stavelot as well as the High Fens region - which contains some of Belgium's highest hills - lie in the Province of Liège's part of the Ardennes.
Condroz
This region of rocky hills and deep valleys to the south and south-west of the city of Liège forms the transition between the Ardennes and the lower lying regions, and is at its best in the valley of the Ourthe, which is home to spectacular landscapes and numerous castles.

The Condroz is shared with the province of Namur.

Hesbaye
This region of long, bare hills - which is known as the Haspengouw in Dutch - lies to the north-west of the city of Liège, and stretches across four provinces, as far as the Flemish university town of Leuven/Louvain. Towns in the Liège part of the Hesbaye are Waremme and Hannut.
Land of Herve
This rich agricultural region around the towns of Herve and Aubel - to the north-east of Liège - offers a landscape of pleasant rolling hills where many local foods are grown and processed.
Ostkantons
The German speaking part of Belgium - around the towns of Eupen and Sankt-Vith - is similar to the Ardennes (to the west) and the German Eifel (to the East), and offers some spectacular natural scenery.
The Ourthe Valley seen from the Roche-aux-Faucons near Esneux, in the Condroz.
The Land of Herve near Dalhem
The Hesbaye near Herstal

Cities[edit]

  • Liège - The namesake and only "big" city of the province, Liège is one of Belgium's major urban areas and the cultural hub of Wallonia. It is a many sided city with a unique atmosphere that is definitely worth visiting if you happen to be in Belgium!
The Montagne de Bueren in Liège
  • Verviers (pop: 55,936) -- Overlooked by almost everyone, Liège's little brother to the east was one of the first towns in the world outside Great Britain to be mechanically industrialised in the early 19th century, when British entrepreneur William Cockerill (and his son John) set up shop there in 1799. Verviers - which is set in the dramatic valley of the Vesdre -- also contains many traces of its pre-mechanical history, which dates make to medieval times. While the town might not be everyone's cup of tea, it will certainly prove fascinating to many others!
19th century neighbourhood in Verviers.

In the Ardennes:

  • Limbourg (pop: 5,680) - This medieval hilltop village, situated on a dramatic hill in a strategic bend of the Vesdre river, is definitely one of the Belgium's undiscovered pearls!
Limbourg
  • Spa (pop: 10,543) - The elegant town which attracted Europe's rich and famous in past centuries and put the word 'spa' into 'spa-town'.
Spa

In the Condroz:

  • Huy (pop: 21,205) - An old town on the banks of the Meuse in the west of the province that boasts an impressive citadel.
The Meuse in Huy

In the Country of Herve:

  • Herve (pop: 16,772) - The unofficial capital of the agricultural 'Pays d'Herve' has rather a nice old center, with a number of buildings dating as far back as the middle ages.
Herve
  • Visé (pop: 17,333) - Visé -- a small town on the Meuse close to the Dutch border -- manages to have quite a pleasant center, despite being mutilated by the A25 motorway.

In the Ostkantons:

  • Eupen (pop: 18,949) - Though small, the capital of the German speaking part of the country is a real capital, and features a parliament building and an upper and lower town.

Other destinations[edit]

Barrage de la Gilleppe

Understand[edit]

The area of the province roughly corresponds with the former Prince-Bishopric of Liège, which was an independent country bordering the Duchy of Limburg -- anonther historical country -- until the French revolution. In earlier history, Charlemagne -- who was born in Liège (Jupille-sur-Meuse)-- made nearby Aachen his capital. Today the provinces of Liège and its neighbours - Dutch and Belgian Limburg and the German region around Aachen - make up the Meuse-Rhine Euregion.

While the province of Liège cooperates with it's national and international neighbours on many levels, a minor territorial dispute remains over the Voeren (FR: Fourons) region -- a small enclave of Belgian Limburg sandwiched between the Pays d'Herve and Dutch Limburg.

It is also noteworthy to mention that a small area in the north-east of the province -- close to the tripoint of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany - was an independent country know as [Neutral-Moresnet] from 1816 to 1920.

Talk[edit]

While most of the province is French speaking, a small part in the east -- around the towns of Eupen and Sankt-Vith -- is German speaking. Most people don't speak English, but will nonetheless do their best to be helpful if you don't speak French.

Get in[edit]

Motorways from/to Amsterdam-Maastricht (NL), Aachen (DE), Trier (DE), Luxembourg, Namur, Antwerp-Hasselt and Leuven-Brussels serve the province of Liège, and there are direct trains from all of these places except Trier.

High speed train link Liège to Brussels/Lille/Paris and Cologne/Frankfurt.

Liège also has an Liège Airport airport, which is mainly for freight, but also serves a number of destinations for passengers. Maastricht-Aachen Airport, Zaventem and Brussels South-Charleroi Airport are slightly further, but better served by public transport.

Get around[edit]

Most towns can be reached by train or bus, but a car is required for the more rural destinations.

One of the best ways to explore the province is by using the Walloon network of cycle and footpaths (Ravel). Amongst others, the paths along the Ourthe and south-western part of the Meuse (around Huy)can be specially recommended!

'Le Pays de Liège' offers cruises with varying destinations - such as Maastricht, Huy or the industrial area to the west of Liège - on the Meuse river.

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Architecture[edit]

Though too messy for the tastes of some people in neighbouring countries, the city and province of Liège offer a fascinating mix of buildings to people who are passionate about all styles of pre-war architecture. For as well as the industrial wastelands, motorways and occasional brutalist monstrosity that gave it its bad name, the region has an impressive heritage: buildings dating as far back as the 11th century dot the towns and countryside alike, often sitting side by side with fine examples of Victorian architecture, art-nouveau, art-deco, early modernism, and everything in between.

The province boasts numerous castles, such as those of Franchimont, Chokier, Esneux, Jalhay, and Huy, as well as many smaller castle-like houses, old churches and old houses.

One can find beautiful examples of art-nouveau architecture spread around Liège and Verviers. The same can be said of art-deco and early modernism, though there is a concentration of the former in the Vennes neighbourhood of Liège. Large amounts of Victorian architecture can be seen almost anywhere in the province.

One can visit some listed buildings on pan-Walloon heritage days and gardens on pan-Belgian open garden days.

Industrial heritage[edit]

Being one of the world's first industrialised regions outside the U.K., one can discover many industrial heritage sites throughout the province, though these are in varying states of repair. Prime examples of these are the coal mine of Hasard in Cheratte, the mining museum at Blegny (a Unesco world heritage site)and the glass-works of Val Saint-Lambert in Seraing.

Military heritage[edit]

The region also has an extensive military heritage, as it has long been of great strategic importance. Of a series of forts that surround the city, the immense underground fort of Eben-Emael -- which is close to Maastricht -- can be visited during one weekend each month.

Franchimont castle
Fort Eben-Emael

War memorials[edit]

  • World War II Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial [1] - The chapel contains maps and relief sculptures depicting the campaigns in the region. The N-63 from Liege to Marche-en-Famenne passes the entrance to the Memorial about 19 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Liege. Open daily except December 25 and January 1; 9:00AM to 5:00PM; Free.
  • World War II Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial[2] - The final resting place of 7,992 American soldiers who died during the Battle of the Bulge. The grounds are home to a museum and a chapel, as well as a monument for the 450 soldier who's remains were never found. 29 kilometers (18 miles) from Liège . Take the N3 northeast toward Aachen, and turn left onto Rue du Mémorial Améreicain. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Nature and countryside[edit]

The province is home to a number of different landscapes, which are described in the 'regions' section of this page. The Condroz and Ardennes can be specially recommended, and trains from Liège to Marloie or from Liège to Eupen provide perfect scenic routes!

Itineraries[edit]

An ideal short holiday (3-4 days) in the province would include staying in the city of Liège, cycling along the Ourthe valley* and day trips to Limbourg and Spa and their surroundings.

Camping in the Ardennes or Condroz can be recomended if you want a more relaxing or 'outdoor' type of holiday.

* This can easily be done from the city of Liège, where you can rent bikes at Liège-Guillemins station.

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

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Get out[edit]

The province of Liège is well positioned in Europe, and the following places are within easy reach as a next destinations (distances are from the city of Liège):

In the Dutch province of Limburg:

  • The trendy & historic city of Maastricht is just 30 kilometers, or a 25 minute train ride away.
  • Roermond, a historic town on the Meuse, is another 30 minutes train ride north of Maastricht.
  • Due to a direct intercity link with Maastricht and the small size of the country, other historic Dutch cities - such as 's-Hertogenbosch (150 km), Utrecht (210 km) and Amsterdam(250 km)- are also just a few hours away.

In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia:

  • Aachen - which is famous for its eighth century cathedral - is about 60 kilometers away, which makes it about 25 minutes by high speed train, or 50 by regional train.
  • The German metropolis of Cologne is about 130 kilometers away, and can be reached directly by high speed train, or by taking a regional train from Aachen.

In Belgium:

  • The capital, Brussels is 90 kilometers and 50 minute by train.
  • The scenic province of Namur, with the beautiful towns of Namur (60 km, 50 minutes by train) and Dinant (+/- 100 km).
  • Belgium's empty quarter, the province of Luxembourg.
  • Tongeren - one of the country's oldest towns is just 15 kilometers from the city of Liège, in the province of Belgian Limburg.
  • Belgium is a small country and even the great Flemish tourist towns Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, and their smaller Walloon counterparts Mons and Tournai - which are on the other side of the country - are all less than three hours away.

There are also direct trains to Luxembourg (130 kilometers, 2,5 hours), and direct high speed trains to Lille (203 km) and Paris (370 km).




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