Visiting Malmedy, Belgium: A Skyline Dominated by Its Monumental 18th Century Cathedral
Towering structure and historical complexity
Malmedy — or Malmédy (1) — in eastern Belgium, is truly dominated in its skyline by a Cathedral with a strong, two-dimensional sense to its frontage.
Dating from 1775, the Cathedral has strong, neo-Classical elements, including a prominent though proportionately small pediment atop Ionic pilasters. The building's twin towers make it highly conspicuous in Malmedy's Downtown and surrounding areas.
The Cathedral is officially known by quite a mouthful in French: la Cathédrale Saints-Pierre, Paul et Quirin.
For many centuries a Prince-Bishop of the Holy Roman Empire ruled the town as part of the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy.
After the French Revolution, a chain of events ensued when Malmedy's religious and administrative status underwent many convulsions, including periods of French, Prussian and German rule. Only since 1945 has Malmedy been continuously part of Belgium, although a now doubtfully regarded plebiscite in 1920 did bring the rationalization for incorporating Malmedy and its surrounding area - together with Eupen - into Belgium in the Interwar years.
Thus the monumental Cathedral, dating from the end days of the Holy Roman Empire in the 18th century when the Prince-Bishop represented the state itself, masks a subsequent fluidity of administrative and religious boundaries.
Malmedy is situated in the Walloon region (French: Région wallonne; German: Wallonische Region) of Belgium's Liège (German: Lüttich) province.
September 12, 2017
(1) My own instinct to write 'Malmédy' because of the former French orthographic practice — which I recall from decades ago — of including an acute accent on the 'e' seems in recent decades to have become somewhat archaic; hence I have omitted it.
Also worth seeing
Baugnez (distance: 4.6 kilometres) has a military museum — Baugnez 44 Historical Center — which specializes in the background to the massacre of 84 American troops by the Nazi German SS.
Monschau, Germany (distance: 28.1 kilometres) is a picturesque town on the Rur River, overlooked by a ruined castle;
How to get there
Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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