7 km north of Dinant, the ruins of the castle of Poilvache (literally "Cow's hair") are suspended majestically over the edge of cliff overlooking the Meuse River.
The extensive medieval fortress was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and was one of the largest strongholds of that era along the Meuse valley.
The earliest known castle at that spot dates back to the 10th century and went by the name of Château d'Émeraude (Emerald Castle).
The castle was not the property of an independent lord, but the fortress of the provostship of Poilvache - that is to say a medieval military, judicial and administrative centre. It was in other words a "State fortress", originally of the County of Luxembourg.
The land of Poilvache was first mentioned in 1228 as the possession of Waleran de Montjoie and his wife Isabelle de Bar, Count and Countess of Luxembourg. In 1343, Marie of Artois, Countess of Namur, acquires the castle and provostship from John the Blind, Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia.
Poilvache was besieged several times, and destroyed in 1430 by the militia of the Prince-bishop of Liège. However, the provostship survived as an administrative entity throughout the Burgundian, Spanish and Austrian period, until the French Revolution.
Ruins of medieval castle of Poilvache.
View of the Meuse valley from Poilvache Castle.
Opening Hours & Admission
Poilvache is open from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm everyday in July and August and on weekends only from April to June and September to the end of October. Admission is free.
How to get there
Poilvache is located 20 km south of Namur and 7 km north of Dinant.
Coming by car from Brussels or Namur, take the E411 and exit for Spontin (exit 19). Follow the road to Yvoir (10km) and take the small country road on the lefthand-side when your reach the village of Evrehailles for 2 more km.
The nearest train station is Yvoir (2 km away) on the Brussels-Namur-Dinant line.
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