The Belgian Rome
The prince-bishops of Liège combined the roles of head of state and head of the church, but they were churchmen first and foremost -- and unencumbered by the dynastic fixation of monarchs with blood lines to perpetuate.
Notger, at the end of the 10th century, was the first prince-bishop. Of Germanic origin, he had been an adviser to the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II and liked to keep up appearances in his new career. He constructed churches and other religious edifices, surrounded the city with a defensive wall, and in general acted to enhance the city-state's prestige. Thanks to Notger, Liège became a center of art, culture, and religion that fully deserved to be dubbed "Rome Beyond the Alps." A medieval chronicler commented that the city "owed Notger to Christ and the rest to Notger."
The prince-bishopric was finally overthrown with the help of the French revolutionary army in 1794.
The Prolific Touch of Georges Simenon
Liège will always be associated with one of the 20th century's most prolific and popular authors. Georges Simenon (1903-89), creator of the famed Inspector Maigret, was born at rue Léopold 24. He grew up here and did his first writing for the local newspaper, the Gazette de Liège. Though he later left to live in Paris and Switzerland, he never forgot his roots, and the atmosphere of Maigret's Paris owes a clear debt to the mean streets of Liège's Outremeuse district.
The Liège tourist office has marked out a Simenon itinerary, which takes you on a tour of places associated with the author.
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