Huy Citadel

Huy Citadel

Belgian Castles

Huy Citadel

Huy Citadel, locally known as Citadelle de Huy, lies above the town of the same name, in the province of Liège in the Wallonia region in Belgium. It is one of the 4 Meuse Citadels: Dinant, Huy, Liège and Namur.

Huy Citadel was preceded by a real medieval castle with the name “Li Tchestia” which was first mentioned in the 9th century. It was besieged and taken in 1525 by the Dutch and quickly retaken by the Prince-bishop of Liège with Spanish aid. The castle was completely torn down in 1715, as a result of the Barrier Treaty which created a buffer zone between the Dutch Republic and Kingdom of France. The strategic rocky outcrop next to a bend in the river Meuse then remained empty for a century.

The present citadel was built between 1818 and 1823 for the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, by the Lieutenant colonel H. Kamerlingh. The formidable fortress housed 600 soldiers. After the Belgian Revolution, in 1831, it became a Belgian property. Belgium used the Huy Citadel to house political prisoners until 1876.

The Belgian State integrated the citadel into a defensive system along the river Meuse in 1914 but it fell into German hands. The Germans then also used it as a prison. After World War I it was used to house Russian prisoners and, for a short time, as a military school. From 1932 on it was demilitarized and became a tourist attraction. However, due to the threat of a new war it was garrisoned again in 1937. German forces took control over the citadel in 1940 and used it as a prison again. Until 1944 it housed 1000’s of prisoners who were transported on to concentration camps, mainly Neuengamme.

After World War II Huy Citadel was given over to touristic purposes and since 1992 houses a museum dedicated to the victims of World War II.

At present Huy Citadel can be visited for a fee. You can reach it via a very long set of stairs from the riverside. Until 2012 it was possible to use a cable car from the other side of the river, but then a helicopter cut one of the cables in an accident. The cable was not repaired. An impressive fortress.

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