The Port of Liege is the capital of Liege Province in Belgium. Located in the valley of the Meuse River in eastern Belgium, it lies in the industrial corridor of the region of Wallonia. In 2008, over 190 thousand people called the metropolitan area (covering 52 municipalities) of Liege home. It is Belgium’s third most populous city.
Settlements were already in the area in Roman times, but Liege was first written about in 558 by the name of Vicus Leudicus. Local pagans were converted to Christianity in the early 8th Century. From 895 until 1794, the Port of Liege was the capital of a prince-bishopric, transforming the city into an important cultural center during the Middle Ages. The oldest church in the Port of Liege is the 682 AD St. Martin’s. Although Liege was part of the Holy Roman Empire, it was for the most part independent.
Its central location made the Port of Liege a target for many armies and home to insurrections, over several centuries. Citizens of Liege defeated their ruler, Engelbert III de la Marck, in a 1345 battle near the city. In 1468, the city was all but destroyed by Louis XI of France when the city rebelled against his rule.
In 1477, the Port of Liege came under the rule of the Habsburg Dynasty, and it was under the Spanish crown after 1555. In the 17th Century, Bavarian prince-bishops ruled the area as part of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Duke of Marlborough and his French allies captured the city in 1704. In 1789, the Revolution Liegeoise arrived with ideas from the French Revolution. During 1794, French solider stood the city, imposing a harsh rule and destroying the city’s great cathedral of Saint Lambert. The 1801 Concordat between the Pope and Napoleon Bonaparte confirmed the end of prince-bishopric rule.
France lost control of the Port of Liege in 1815 when the Congress of Vienna transferred it to the Netherlands. In 1830, the Belgian Revolution created an independent Belgium that included Liege. After this final transfer of power, the Port of Liege developed quickly into one of Europe’s important industrial centers.
In the late 1880s, architect Henri Alexis Brialmont redesigned the Port of Liege’s fortifications, creating a chain of 12 forts around the city. The forts were a significant challenge to the German army during World War I. They did not, however, withstand a five-day bombardment of German howitzers. The Port of Liege’s brave resistance is credited for Germany’s failure to invade France, though the city was occupied by Germany until the end of the war.
The Germans came back to the Port of Liege in 1940, this time in only three days. The people of Liege helped save most of the city’s Jews. The US Army forced the Germans from the city in 1944, but it suffered massive bombing after that, receiving over 1500 German V1 and V2 missiles. After World War II, the collapse of its steel industry crippled the Port of Liege. High unemployment led to social unrest. In 1961, frustrated workers assailed the railway station.
The Port of Liege was known as a traditionally socialist city. Former Deputy Prime Minister and socialist Andre Cools was assassinated there in 1991. As early as the 1100s, the Port of Liege supported trade between the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, and Germany. Wines, spices, Oriental carpets, Byzantine fabrics, furs, slate, grains, wool, and brass were common goods.
As long ago as 1850, the Port of Liege had few facilities to help shippers move their goods. In 1937, Belgium created the Liege Port Authority to oversee its ports, and the Albert Canal was opened in 1939, opening the cities of Antwerp and Rotterdam to maritime trade through the Port of Liege.
In 1969, the Port of Liege was expanded to cover the city’s industrial area. In 1976, a roll-on/roll-off dock was constructed at Seraing port. In 1982, the ile Monsin covered dock started operating. In 1984, a trimodal platform was created that included a container terminal.