Brussels & Wallonia
Wallonia is a region in the south of Belgium and is known as a land of memory. In 2014 and 2015 Wallonia will commemorate three major events which have not only marked the history of Belgium, but also that of Europe and the world. Through visits to monuments, historical sites, theme tours, museums and exhibitions, the program set up by Wallonia is certainly imbued with emotions.
Indeed two centuries have gone by since the battle of Waterloo (June 1815) changed the course of European history. Later, in August 1914, the attack of the Province de Liège and its forts highlighted the conflict between France and Germany. Seven decades back, in December 1944, the Battle of Ardennes which broke out in the province of Luxembourg, Namur and Liège was considered as the final stage of World War II on the Belgian territory.
Getting off in Liège (0h45 trip from Brussels) with the Thalys high speed train, you will arrive in the heart of the region where the first battles of the First World War took place. Take a tour of Fort Loncin which withstood 11 days of German offensive before exploding in August 15th, 1914. Don’t miss the 14-18 exhibition in the Liège Guillermins railway station which will be held as from August 2014. From Liège, head to Bastogne (1h20 trip) and discover the Mardasson Memorial, which is dedicated to the US soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of the Bulge. As from March 2014, you will be able to visit the Bastogne War Museum, a new memorial site with interactive scenography.
Go to Namur (1h30 trip), the capital of Wallonia, to visit the Citadelle de Namur, a fortified structure overlooking the city and which occupied a strategic position between the 15th and 19th century in Europe. Take a tour to reach the Fort d’Emines, which was heavily bombarded by the Germans in 1914, before going to the beautiful small town of Dinant (0h30 trip). There you will have access to the Citadelle de Dinant, an exceptional site built in 1051.
From Namur, take the train to Mons (1h05 trip) to discover vestiges of the Battle of Mons and to unearth the legend of the Angels of Mons, who supposedly protected the British army during the First World War. In 2015, the Mons Memorial Museum will open. Next, take the trip to Waterloo (1h15 trip) and walk in the footsteps of Napoleon. Don’t forget to discover the new Napoleon road that runs through the provinces of Hainaut, Namur and Walloon Brabant. In 2015, the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo will be held amidst the opening of a new memorial, fireworks and as re-enactments. End your trip by visiting Brussels (0h30 trip) where you can visit the 14-18 exposition in the Army Museum, as from February 2014.