Oudenaarde Tourist Attractions


Oudenaarde (French Audenarde), in the south of East Flanders where the Flemish Ardennes give way to the coastal moor land (geest) and which is traversed by the Scheldt, is a quiet township which possesses a considerable textile industry. For art lovers Oudenaarde is, after Ghent and Tournai, of the greatest interest because of its impressive buildings in the Scheldt Gothic style and its magnificent town hall. The town was once famous for its wall tapestries, the so-called Verduren, which differed by the coloring of their floral motifs from examples in Brussels where pictorial motifs were preferred.

Town Hall

The wonderful Stadhuis was built between 1526 and 1537 according to plans by the Brussels' civic architect Hendrik van Pede on the site of the courthouse (Schepenhuis) which had been pulled down. The architect followed the Late-Gothic city halls of Brussels and Leuven and introduced Renaissance elements. Above an arcaded passage rises the 25m/82ft- high elaborate main facade adorned with figures, pilasters and arches, and separated harmoniously by the introduction of a 40m/131ft-high clock-tower. On the top of this is the figure of "Hanske de Krijger" (Henry the victor) the symbolic protector of the city. The magnificence of the exterior is complemented by the interior. Passing through the vaulted halls on the ground floor we enter the Great Hall (Volkszaal) with a balcony overlooking the market, and which is heated by means of a great Late-Gothic fireplace by the Oudenaarde sculptor Pauwel van der Schelden. The same sculptor was responsible for the porch at the entrance door of the courtroom (Schepenzaal); here should be noted the original oak floor and the pictures: Charles VI, Louis XIV on horseback, Oudenaarde in the 18th C., and some examples from the school of Adriaan Brouwers. In the archive hall documents are kept concerning the history of the town.
The tower and belfry are UNESCO sites.

Silver Room

The Silver Room in the town hall displays silver objects originating from Oudenaarde's contribution to the silversmith trade between the 15th and the 18th century.


The market, which is surrounded by an impressive ensemble of historic buildings, is the center of the life of the town. The most striking edifice is the Stadhuis in front of which can be seen a fountain adorned with dolphins, a present from Louis XIV in 1671.

Cloth Hall

Next to the City Hall stands the Cloth Hall dating from the 13th century. Its roof is borne by an unusual construction of beams.

Civic Museums

The rooms of the City Hall and the Cloth Hall house the collections of the civic museums. These include excellent examples of Verduren from Oudenaarde on the walls of the Cloth Hall, pictures, especially those of Adriaan Brouwer, Gaspard Heuvick, Jan van Ruysdael and Jan Bruegel the Elder, as well as historic documents and objects including cross-bows of the Sint-Joris riflemen's guild which had been known from the 12th century, and the famous 12 pewter "presentation tankards" which were filled in honor of an important visitor: two for a prince, six for a king and all 12 for the emperor.

Saint Walburga Church

The second building which dominates the square is Sint-Walburgakerk with its east end facing the market. It is easy to recognize that it consists of two different parts. First the somewhat slender three-aisled choir with corner towers (the side choirs dating from about 1150, the choir apses from 1406) typical of Schelde Gothic, and the massive main nave over which rises the mighty 90m/295ft-high tower. This was begun in 1498 and completed in 1620. It houses a carillon with 47 bells. Inside the church can be seen the figures of the apostles on the pillars on the nave, as well a number of beautiful Verduren.

Bishop's Palace

Behind the church stands the Bishop's Palace built about 1600, one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Belgium. The main part, however, dates from 1722 and is also furnished with beautiful Oudenaarde tapestries.

Hospital of Our Lady

Immediately adjacent to the Bishop's Palace is the Hospital of Our Lady which was built in 1382.

Huis van Margaretha van Palma

In the Late-Gothic house nearby the Vleeshuis it is said that Margaretha van Palma was born. Immediately adjacent arises the Boudewijntoren dating from the 12th C., probably a remnant of the town fortifications.


Returning to the market we see on the right the former Vleeshuis. The first meat-hall was built in 1338, a new building followed in 1584 and the present neo-Classical building, which now houses the town library, in 1779.


Leaving the market along Burgstraat in the direction of the Scheldt we come to the Béguinage which dates from 1367. The original buildings however were destroyed by the Iconoclasts. The 32 cottages which are here today were built in the 17th C.

Church of Our Lady of Pamele

The Tussenbruggen leads across the river to the district of Pamele. On the right stands the church of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Pamele, another example of Scheldt-Gothic architecture in Oudenaarde built by Arnulf von Binche, the first Flanders' builder to be known by name; a replica of a bronze plaque on the outside wall of the choir indicates this with the date 1234. The church is distinctive for its tall narrow choir windows, the corner towers of the choir and the octagonal crossing tower. The northern transept was rebuilt in the 14th century and both side chapels on the south were added in 1524. Inside can be seen the tomb of Philipp de Locquenghien, Baron of Pamele and Lord of Oudenaarde who died in 1620, as well as a triptych with panels by Jan Snellinck.


By the churchyard of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Pamele stands the Zwartsuisterhuis, once the house of the black sisters who devoted their lives to looking after the sick. After the destruction of the old building by the French it was restored in the 17th C.

Lalaing House

The Huis de Laiaing is a 17th century, Roccoco dwelling that acts as a textile centre and museum. As well as an exhibition of works by Oudenaarde artists, it houses a wall-hangings workshop where the production of Verdüren is taught. Old tapestries are restored here before being displayed in the Lakenhalle (Clothmaker's Hall) in the town hall.

Maagdendale Abbey

In 1232 Cistercians settled on the right bank of the Scheldt and soon their community became one of the richest in Flanders. As time went on the convent buildings were destroyed on several occasions and rebuilt; the present building dates from the 17th and 18th C. and only the Gothic chapel has survived the storms.


The Park Liedts is reached by recrossing the Scheldt and continuing north past the post office. In the middle of the park stands the Liedtskasteel built in 1883 in neo-Renaissance style. The four rooms contain the Folk Art Museum.
Oudenaarde Map - Tourist Attractions Oudenaarde Map - Attractions
  • Town Hall
  • Market
  • Sint-Walburgakerk
  • Hospital of Our Lady
  • Beguinage
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Pamele
  • Huis de Laiaing
  • Liedtskasteel
  • Abdij van Maagdendale
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