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Godefroidís Crusader's Castle on the Semois

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Sundra
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« on: February 05, 2012, 06:02:52 pm »

        


BOUILLON BELGIUM
Godefroidís Crusader's Castle on the Semois

Godfrey of Bouillon Statue photoNo matter what one thinks about the politics of the Crusades of the middle ages, savior of Christian Holy lands or xenophobic European land grab, it is no doubt that Godfrey of Bouillon (Godefroid) was a Belgian national hero for his part. It was the French who Godefroid's Castle Crusader knights photoinstigated the first crusade, but it was the Belgian count Godfrey of Bouillon leading a troop of Lotharingian knights who was the first European knight to breach the walls of Jerusalem in 1099. Godefroid de Bouillon was offered the title of King of Jerusalem but turned down the crown, named instead Warden of the Holy Sepulcher, though like many a soldier in war, he died a year later from the plague (some suggest poison) never to return home. Although Godefroidís arms resemble that of the Templar Knights, they did not come into existence until the second crusade (see Troyes).

Semois River View photoOn a visit to the beautiful town of Bouillon in southeast Belgium just across the border from France Lorraine it is impossible to avoid the legacy of Godfrey of Bouillon. The hereditary castle he sold and left behind to go off to war stands above the town on a steep rocky escarpment. The castle was naturally placed on the high rock cliff whereDrawbridge Gate of Godfreys Castle photo the Semois River curves around like a hair pin. The castle as it stands now has sections that remain from the 11th Century, but much of it was fortified in the 13th Century and later in the gunpowder age of the 1600ís defending against the French armies of Louis XIV. A wooden bridge crosses a high draw into the castle, which stretches long and narrow along the cliff with upper and lowerSemois from CASTLE PHOTO great stone vaulted halls remaining with tunnels, chambers, donjons, powder, storage rooms and high defensive walls. There are even stone balls left over that were used as ammunition in catapaults. There are a number of representations and statues of Godfrey (Godefroid) around the castle (see Godfrey of Jerusalem Hofkirche Innsbruck), but some of its significant history dates from when this part of Belgium was annexed by the Dutch in 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo (see Waterloo Battle Museums). Dutch is a second language still in use in Bouillon.

Falconry Show photoLocated within the fortified castle of Bouillon the Bird of Prey Spectacle is a daily raptor performance show of Eagles, Falcons and Condors, demonstrations of medieval falconry and bird behavior. When the show is over and the audience gone the great birds remain on their perches, eyeing castle visitors with avian suspicion, offering a chance to see them quite up close. Actually they sit so still, at first you think they might be stuffed. Then they turn and fix you with a look. Is that a glint of hunger in the falconís eye? It is possible to drive up to the castle on the hill. Across the parking lot is the Musee Ducal, the Dukeís Museum in a former 18th Century soldierís quarters. Medieval effigy Museum Ducal photoThe Museum Ducal has art and artifacts from days of Godefroid to the later days of the dukes of Bouillon, including an efigy of a countess that looks like she's napping in a hotel room. There are folklore rooms which remain furnished as they were in the 12th Century. Also here is the Archeoscope of Godefroid, an audio-visual representation of his journey to Jerusalem, including sets and special effects, though the actual history may be subject to scholarly interpretation. The museum and archeoscope require separate admission from the castle.

Castle View from the river bank photoThe town of Bouillon itself hugs either side of the river below the castle. A bucolic picturesque forest town clinging to the hillsides. At sun down fish jump in the shallow softly lapping Semois as it flows under the two bridges at either end of town. A tourist town for lovers of nature, history and food. A number of hotel restaurants are located on the banks of the river and above the village with its two main streets. The Hostellerie La Porte De France is a Best Western hotel located directly below the castle. The Auberge díAlsace Hotel de France is a member of the Logis de Belgique and has a very nice country style Hotel La Porte de France photoelegant restaurant with river view to enjoy a Belgian beer and a Croque Monsieur. Close to Bouillon is the Animal Park of Bouillon, kayaking and river boats on the Semois at Chiny, the Giantís Tomb and the Monastery at Orval in Villiers Devant Orval (see Orval Abbey - Trappist Beer and Monks), also hiking, biking and even go-karts. Bouillon is about an hour drive from Luxembourg or Strasbourg, about two hours from Liege, Brussels or Reims though time might vary with traffic as it is well off the main autoroutes. © Bargain Travel Europe
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Sundra
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 06:06:47 pm »

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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 06:07:25 pm »

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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 06:07:55 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 06:08:18 pm »

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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 06:08:42 pm »

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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 06:09:14 pm »

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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 06:09:52 pm »

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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 06:10:42 pm »

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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 06:11:56 pm »

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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 06:12:43 pm »

http://www.bargaintraveleurope.com/08/Belgium_Godefroid_Castle_Bouillon.htm
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