“After Belgium gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1830, King Willem I of the Netherlands invaded the country three times. The young country was not well equipped to defend itself against attacks from the North, so the Belgian government decided to turn Diest into a fortified city,” says Thea Henderix, head of tourism services in Diest. “A city wall with impressive gates was built, partly on top of the remains of the medieval city walls, and a gunpowder warehouse and citadel were constructed as well. Most of it is still preserved today. That makes Diest very unique.”