Sunday in Tournai
Tournai Travel Blog› entry 47 of 354 › view all entries
This Sunday my son and I wanted to take another Belgian city into a close look. The choise fell on Tournai a city I had briefly visited before but which I wanted to come back to when I had some more time.
One the more spectacular items that strike straight when you get into Tournai is the Belfry Tower. The Belfry of Tournai is the oldest in Belgium and in Northern Europe. It is built on the site of a tower of the first surrounding wall, the Belfry is divided into three distinct parts. Its square tower is strengthened at the corners by four buttresses above which 4 round turrets with pyramidal bell-turrets rise.
It symbolises the right of self-administration and was erected when Philippe Auguste, King of France, gaveTournai its freedom charter in 1188. He granted to Tournai the 'Right of Bell' and especially a large bell called 'Bancloque', used to summon the population in case of danger.
Until 1827, the cold rooms of the Belfry were used as prisons. The present momuments is 72 meter high. 256 spiral stairs lead the visitor to the top and a wonderful view on the surrounding countryside is offered to the courageous. The Belfry has been totally restored and is equipped with a modern multimedia system giving a good idea of its history.
One the town square or the Grand Place a awesome building stands out – it is the Cloth Hall.
Tournai is located in the lowlands of Belgium, at the southern limit of the Flemish plain, in the basin of the Scheldt. Administratively, the town is part of the Province of Hainaut, itself part of the Walloon Region of the country. It is also a commune that is part of the French-speaking Community of Belgium. Tournai has its own arrondissements, both administrative and judicial.
Its area of 213.75 km² makes it the largest commune in size in Belgium; it is also the largest in population in Western Hainaut.
Tournai has the privilege of being the only city in Belgium which was ever English. Henry VIII Tudor, who claimed to be 'King of France and England', wanted to see his possessions and in June 1513, he landed at Calais with a strong army. He had concluded an alliance with Maximilian of Austria whose ambitions were greater than Henry's ones. Maximilian insisted on not going ahead southwards but on laying siege to Tournai first.