Visiting the Charlemagne Viaduct, Dinant, over the Meuse River: the tallest viaduct in Belgium
Spanning heights and memories
The Charlemagne Viaduct (French: viaduc Charlemagne ), in its way, is impressive, as is the scenery over Belgium's Meuse River. And well it might be: at 80 metres high, it is Belgium's highest viaduct.
Built between 1979 and 1981, it came about as a logistical necessity. Dinant's narrow streets and summer traffic problems made it increasingly imperative that traffic be allowed to divert around the town. Accordingly, the Walloon Ministry of Amenities and Transportation (French: Ministère Wallon de l'Equipement et des Transports ) undertook this major project.
The striking height of the viaduct, executed in concrete and steel, was made a necessity by the topography around the Meuse River. Although in mountaineering terms the hills and rocks around Dinant are not especially high, yet the steep nature of the nearby rock-faces make rock-climbing a popular, local sport, as enterprising climbers regularly rise to the challenge of negotiating and conquering such outcrops of sheer rock as abound in the Meuse Valley (French: Vallée de la Meuse ) (1).
The Viaduct's length is 642 metres.
Local history and legends relating to Emperor Charlemagne (c.742-814) combined to make the name of the Viaduct seem appropriate to the authorities (2). The N97, carried across the Meuse by the Viaduct, is at this juncture known as Route Charlemagne .
Dinant is located in the Namur province, in Belgium's Walloon region (French: Région wallonne ). Personally — I used to live in Belgium — I think Dinant and district is among the most impressive places in Belgium.
October 8, 2012
(1) One such sportsman was Belgium's King Albert I (1875-1934; reigned 1909-1934), who, while rock-climbing in the Meuse Valley, tragically fell to his death in 1934. Belgium has no real mountains, but the French word alpinisme is certainly appropriate, given the existence of challenging topography for rock-climbers.
(2) To Canadians the name might seem vaguely familiar, and this may be because there is a bridge (named for Charles de Gaulle) at the Montreal, Quebec suburb of Charlemagne.
Also worth seeing
In Dinant itself, the Bayard Rock (close to the Viaduct) is a much visited landmark; the Collegiate church of Notre Dame is outstandingly impressive against a backdrop of sheer rock; the ancient Citadel overlooks the town.
How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Dinant : 94 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB - NMBS maintains a service between Brussels and Dinant . Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, you are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the Bayard Rock, Dinant, Belgium: where the scenic Meuse Valley, history and legend meet
- Visiting Dinant, Belgium: amazing, ecclesiastical architecture on the Meuse River
- Visiting Bouvignes-sur-Meuse, Belgium: a tale of borders and historic rivalry
- Visiting the Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels, Belgium: the largest Art Deco building in the world
- Visiting the Tour Victoire at Givet, France: Medieval customs post overlooking the Meuse River
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