Yvoir: discreet and lovable city


Yvoir, the daughter of Haute-Meuse, is rich in history and heritage and has many assets: charming villages with churches and castles, interspersed with cultivated fields and green meadows that offer them a rural setting.

By Florence Pirard

The municipality of Condruz in the center of the province of Namur at the confluence of the Bocq and Maas rivers comprises nine villages: Dorinne, Durnal, Evrehailles, Godinne, Houx, Mont, Purnode, Spontin and Yvoir.

The history of this entity is closely linked to the Château de Poilvache. The old fortress is a hundred meters above the Meuse and overlooks the villages of Houx, Anhée and Bouvignes. The ruins of Poilvache are classified and registered in a place recognized as the Exceptional Heritage of Wallonia in the heart of a nature reserve. From 1254 it was clearly in the county of Luxembourg, where it took on a strategic role vis-à-vis the county of Namur and the Principality of Liège. Despite some adjustments to its defense, the ensemble that had joined the Burgundian states in 1421 was destroyed in 1430 during a siege by the Liège against Philippe le Bon. The burned fortress is finally dismantled and abandoned.

Aerial view of the Château de Poilvache. © Guy Focant

An industrial village

The small village of Yvoir, which gave the company its name, is located in a place that provides the driving force for the development of forges (there were twelve of them), the presence of which has been documented since the 16th century. Industrial buildings testify to the importance of this activity, and the ironmasters’ houses testify to the wealth of their owners. In the second half of the 19th century, the exploitation of quarries increased. Some are still in use today. Old lime kilns also bear witness to this industrial development. The village grew and expanded along new arteries from 1863 with the arrival of the railroad. The latter claims its presence through two viaducts in beautiful limestone fixtures with rustic bosses under a metal deck.

The Yvoir parish hall is located in the heart of the village in the old tower. This building was the seigneurial farmhouse of Yvoir and the residence of local blacksmith families. This stately ensemble, bathed in the south by the waters of the Bocq, seems to have evolved over the centuries from a small residential tower from the late Middle Ages or even from the 16th century.

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The geographic center of Wallonia

An aerial view of the village of Spontin, geographic center of Wallonia, with the castle. © Guy Focant

The village of Spontin, stronghold of the Provost Poilvache, is located in the Bocq Valley and encompasses a dense habitat that was mainly built of limestone in the 19th and 20th centuries. Along the river, Spontin Castle is a remarkable limestone complex made up of a medieval castle and a modern farm. This haughty Luxembourgish Seigneury from Namur (1344) has been owned by the de Spontin family from the Beaufort line since the 13th century. Passed in 1518 to the Glymes de Florennes, it was returned to the Beaufort-Spontin in 1753.

The square castle, which used to be surrounded by a moat, has an imposing four-level rectangular keep in the center of the courtyard, which was built between 1270 and 1275. The entrance gate is the result of at least three construction phases from the 14th to 17th centuries and has two defense towers and a drawbridge. From the 16th century onwards, when the fortifications became unnecessary, the castle was transformed into a residence, in particular by drilling windows. In 1622, the construction of a fortified farm completed the site. The castle, the farm, the outbuildings and the surrounding area have been under monument protection since 1950. Access to the castle is currently not possible, but you can admire it from the outside as you discover the village of Spontin.

Located on a steep slope, Saint Georges Church is a limestone rubble building that was rebuilt in 1922 after a violent fire in 1914. This neo-Gothic building includes some areas of old masonry from the 16th century, notably the large limestone building from the choir. Inside is the copper grave blade of Claude-Lamoral-François de Glymes de Florennes, Lord von Spontin (1705) and Jeanne-Marguerite de Cottereau, his wife (1733).

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A remarkable site

The extraordinary site of Godinne, a village of undeniable charm. © Guy Focant

Depending on the provost of Poilvache through the rule of Spontin, the village of Godinne developed from the 16th century. It is located in a loop of the Meuse on the right bank on a gentle slope, opposite the steep slope of the Panorama of the Seven Meuse. Its location is particularly known to tourists for its remarkable grouping, for the river, the church, the castle and a large farm that has been classified since 1959. The rest of the limestone, sandstone and brick village is unstructured by the Namur-Dinant railway line, which divides it in two, and by the many linear subdivisions associated with the development of the Mont Godinne University Clinics.

The Saint-Pierre church was built in several stages, possibly from the Romanesque to the 19th century. The old farm is a beautiful, fenced-in complex from the 17th century, which is accessed via a veranda with the Maillen coat of arms from 1623. Today it mainly houses the cultural center managed by the non-profit association Patrimoine de Godinne. a library, a museum and reception rooms. Wrongly known as the Priory, Godinne’s Castle is a 16th-century house likely built by Henry de Wildre, the Provost of Poilvache.

An agricultural village

The village of Evrehailles is located in a hilly place and develops along three main roads that converge at the Saint-Laurent church. This clustered habitat consists mostly of houses and farms from the 18th and 19th centuries, and is often bordered by sandstone and limestone rubble. Towards the top of the village, the layout of the building is more flexible, with courtyards and gardens. This village can be discovered on a walk: the farms of Celles, Croquette and Bouverie, the castle, the village square, the BellefroidÉ house

Organize your visit

View of the Meuse and the Isle of Houx from the Tour du Midi. © Guy Focant

The island of Yvoir is a recreation and hiking center as well as a popular stopover for boaters. It can be reached by a small ferry that crosses the Meuse. Also of interest are the park at the mouth of the Bocq and the Tricointe National Forest, both of which are listed. In Godinne there are many temporary exhibitions in the cultural center. Fourteen hiking trails lead you to Yvoir, its nine villages and untouched nature.