Castles, Cathedrals, and Climbs… Oh My!
Good evening, everyone, and happy Friday!
Before we each embark upon our own adventures this weekend, I wanted to share one last memorable outing from the time spent with my family. It’s got castles. It’s got endless staircases. It’s got cathedrals. And it’s got Lonely Bouquets! Coming from a modest and modern upbringing in the San Francisco suburbs, it’s kind of crazy to me that I live in a region surrounded by ancient castles, abbeys, graveyards, and bunkers. Memories of battles fought 50, 100, 1000 years ago remain buried within the grassy green fields now frequented by cows.
For a history buff like my brother-in-law and the two little princesses I get to call my nieces, a trip to a castle sounded like lots of fun! We packed up our car and headed out in search of the Castle of Vêves, a centuries-old building hidden on the hillside of the relatively remote and ordinary village of Celles-Houyet. If it wasn’t for a small, faded wooden sign with “Vêves” scrawled across it, you’d never know that a 15th century site was waiting for discovery…
Although the castle itself was picturesque and fairytale-esque, the exhibition contents inside didn’t have all that much to offer. To this day, one family still presides over a board dedicated to maintaining the historical site… and you can tell. Many of the rooms are dedicated to the family history and adorned with (relatively recent) personal family photos. Interesting… but also a bit odd.
I loved the intricate stonework, tiling, and woodwork found throughout the castle property. It was pretty amazing to see a castle built directly upon a solid stone foundation. Apparently this original foundation dates back to Pepin de Herstal (670-714). Pretty crazy, right?
Since exploring the castle grounds had left us all with a bit of an appetite, we chose to forego our plans to visit another castle and opted to grab some lunch in the near-by city of Dinant. After we filled up on some tasty calories, we decided to visit the Citadel. Looking for a bit of a challenge, Eves and I chose not to take the gondola and climb the stairs instead. Phew! Those things were never-ending!
I can understand why such a strategically raised structure would deter many an invader from attacking… they’d probably suffer a heart attack half way up the stairs! That being said, the view from the top made it all worthwhile. The Citadel itself? Meh. Admittedly, we didn’t take the guided tour, but there didn’t seem to be all that much general information on display. It might sound silly, but we actually had a more entertaining time playing on the various structures in the playground next to the Citadel cafe. Totally worth it!
Back down below, we popped inside the cavernous Gothic-style walls of the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame. Absolutely gorgeous from the outside, but, aside from one enormous stained glass window, much less impressive from the inside. There were a few neat architectural details, like the holy water pedestal (right), and one heck of an organ player performing live.
Keira and I left a couple Lonely Bouquets behind for the people of Dinant to enjoy… and both were picked up by a lovely lady named Marleen! :)
Exhausted and satisfied after all of the climbing, walking, and sweating, we hopped back in the car and headed home. It’s always fun to explore new corners of the country and find ourselves in the midst of new adventures… who knows what will come next!
Wishing you all a wonderful adventure this weekend and looking forward to hearing all about it on Monday! :)