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History & Heritage

Celles: one of the Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia 

Celles: one of the Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia

It’s only a small step from Celles to cella…


As a matter of fact, the toponym ‘Celles’ stems from the Latin ‘cella’, which can mean cell or even room. But what is the link between the village of Celles and a room?
It all started in the 8th century with the arrival of Saint Hadelin (617-690), who was a native of Guyenne in French Aquitaine. After a long and eventful journey in company of Saint Remacle , the founder of the Stavelot Abbey, Saint Hadelin decided to flee civilization and sought refuge in a cave in the middle of the woods.
He was rapidly joined by other monks who were attracted by his reputation of saintliness. The rooms, cella, that his fellow recluse built, gave their name to the village.

Short history of the village…
 

The origins of Celles go back to the 2nd century when the villagers adored a Roman god : Neptune.
But it is only in the 7th century that Christianity will gain a firm footing in the area when the region is evangelised by…our friend Saint Hadelin, who even founded a monastery in the village! After his death in 690, his companions placed his mortal remains in a reliquary (a kind of trunk), which the monks then walled into what is currently the church’s western crypt.
Several centuries later, sick and tired of being harassed by the Lords of Celles, the monks can see no other option but to leave the village. They find refuge in Visé, near Liège, and take the saint’s relics away with them. Even nowadays, the villagers are deeply attached to their Patron Saint, and celebrate him every year with a festival that is held on the first weekend of February.

The Saint-Hadelin hermitage
 

After the monks’ departure for Visé in 1337, the hill overlooking the church will be occupied by hermits, whose task is to ensure that the saint’s former dwelling place remains unsullied. Near the end of the 18th century, the Counts of Liedekerke-Beaufort have a convent constructed there for a community of nuns, who will remain there until 1973. The basement rooms are then converted into an exhibition area with meeting room, while the chapel is now home to a nursery school.

The Romanesque church
 

The remarkably well preserved church of Celles is considered as one of the finest examples of Mosan Romanesque architecture. Built with limestone and sandstone rubble, it is thought to be prior to the 12th century, while the crypt, located under the choir, is thought to date from the 9th century. The church has the shape of a Latin cross, with three naves and two rows of pillars.
Inside the church, note the many Gothic-style treasures: the stalls, among the oldest in Belgium (from the 13th century), a bluestone lectern (probably from the 16th century), the bluestone baptismal fonts decorated with angle heads (from the 16th century), statues of the Virgin Mary and Saint John in polychrome wood (from the 16th century), and a bluestone holy water font (probably from the 13th century). Note the beautiful stained-glass windows dating from 1600 and representing various scenes from the New Testament, and the interesting tombstones, notably the one in black marble that carries the remains of Rasse of Celles and his wife.
 

The Castle of Vêves; Sleeping Beauty's castle
 

This pentagonal castle, flanked by 5 elegant towers, towers over the picturesque village of Celles. If you are interested in architecture, you should know that the castle of Vêves is considered as one of the most distinctive examples of 15th century military architecture! It was the seat of Pépin of Herstal from as early as the late 8th century and has been in the Liedekerke-Beaufort family for centuries!
 

For more information about visiting the Castle of Vêves : click here

Tank Panther
 

On the outskirts of the village, you can see another chapter of our history : a Panther tank dating from the Second World War and a commemorative stele. It’s on this particular sport that, on Christmas Eve 1944, while the Battle of the Bulge was raging, the Second German Panzer Division was stopped by the 2nd American Armoured Division and the 3rd British Royal Tank Regiment.
Local legend has it that Marthe Monique – who was the pub landlady of the watering hole opposite the tank – stopped the Germans by getting them to believe that the road to Dinant was a minefield…

Yum-Yum!

Now what about sampling some local delicacies? Celles boasts quite a number of tasty specialties: the 'chausson cellois' (kind of Cornish pasty with a rabbit meat filling), the beer 'cuvée Saint-Hadelin', which is a pure delight with Celles’ scrumptious cheese, known as the 'fromage de l'Ermite' (the hermit's cheese),...



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Tourisme et Culture de Celles

5561 - Celles [Houyet]

 Contact :
- [Houyet]
G. +32(0)497/30 73 34
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Parking Dogs allowed Restaurant Terrace Member of the � Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia �


Celles: one of the Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia







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