A tour through 9000 years of history under Place Saint Lambert
In the years 1960-1970, the policy of “everything-for-the-automobile” threatened the heritage in the historic heart of Liege. Extending the motorway up to Place Saint Lambert, with a large underground car park and coach parking, was one of the projects under consideration.
The first demolition, on the west of the square began in 1975. Given the imminence of greater damage, Professor Hélène Danthine, from Liege University, applied for the right to excavate. This was accepted in 1974 for a period of two months. But research went on as Marcel Otte succeeded her at the head of the excavations in 1978.
In 1979, a second construction site was opened to the east, where the buildings on the Tivoli block had been disassembled. Jeannine Alénus-Lecerf headed the excavations for the National Excavation Department.
The threat of destruction became more specific and in 1982, the archaeologists decided to remove certain vestiges, considering that they were all that could be saved. The Roman walls, the hypocaust, and an corner of the crypt from the year 1000 were removed from the site and stored in safety. The excavations continued nevertheless. In 1984, contrary to all expectations, the urban planning projects were abandoned although the excavation had stopped. Place Saint Lambert had to be presentable for the visit of Pope John Paul II when he came to Belgium in 1985.