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Liege - Historical Background

During the prehistoric era, a small number of people settled at the confluence of the rivers Meuse and Legia, now occupied by the Place Saint Lambert and the Prince-Bishops Palace.

Much later, during the 2nd century AD, a vast Roman Villa was built on the same spot and a large population attracted by the proximity of the rivers settled around it.

The inhabitants became Christian believers, and thus the settlers soon built a chapel in which Lambert, bishop of Tongres-Maastricht, was assassinated in 705. As a result, more and more pilgrims were attracted to the place of Lambert's death. The little village grew into a town. The change of location of the Bishopric from Maastricht to Liege, the town development was further assured.

Liege became the centre of a vast Principality spreading from southern Holland to Burgundy.

After the battle of Waterloo (1815) Liege rapidly developed into an important cultural and industrial centre. The University was established in 1817 and a theatre built in 1818. The construction in 1820 of a large steel works by John Cockerill, an Englishman, began the industrial development of the city. In 1825 the famous Val Saint Lambert cristalworks opened, followed by a number of steel mills between 1835 and 1840. In 1889 the FN arms manufactory (also builder of motorcycles and cars) opened.

The people of Liege obtained great wealth during this period and in the years leading to the two world wars, reflected in some of the town's architecture.

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