Sint-Niklaas Tourist Attractions
Sint-Niklaas, situated in the province of East Flanders between the rivers Scheldt and Durme, is the center of the Waasland, the agricultural region to the northeast of Ghent.
The town has important industrial and trading concerns and is a notable administration center. The largest branch of industry is textiles (weaving, knitwear and the production of carpets). Metal, wood and tobacco also play a part in its economy.Sint-Niklaas lies at the crossing of two old trade routes, one led from Brabant to Zeeland, and the other linked Antwerp with Ghent and Bruges. In 1217 the former trading place was raised to an independent parish with St Nicolas as its patron saint. In 1248 Margarete of Constantinople, Duchess of Flanders, gave the area of the present-day market place to the newly formed parish with the instruction that the huge area should be free of building for all time. In the 17th C. Sint- Niklaas grew to be an important center of textile working and extended its position in the following century. In 1804 it was raised to the status of a town under Napoleon I. By reason of its favorable position in the European economic area Sint-Niklaas developed in the 20th C. to one of the most important cities of Belgium.
Annually on the first Saturday in September balloonists from all parts of Europe meet in Sint- Niklaas to start a race from the Grote Markt.
The imposing center of Sint-Niklaas is the Grote Markt which has an area of 3.2ha/8 acres, the largest municipal town square in Belgium. Its northwest end is dominated by the neo-Gothic Stadhuis (town hall) of 1878, the tower of which houses a carillon of 35 bells. Behind the Town Hall rises the tower of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk of 1841 with a gilded dome and a statue (6m/20ft high) of Mary.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Opposite the town hall on the southeast end stand the Parochiehuis, a priest's house of 1663, later the town hall and now a commercial court, the Cipierage, originally a prison of 1662 and now a library, and the Landhuis, former law courts of 1637.
Behind the Parochiehuis rises Sint-Niklaaskerk, the church of the patron of the town, dedicated in 1238 and extended on several occasions in the 16th C. Notable features of the interior include the Baroque side altars of Hubert and Norbert van de Eynden as well as sculptures by Luc Fayd'herbe and a figure of Christ by Duquesnoy.
Zamanstraat branches off Statioonsstraat. Along it can be found the museum of the town and the Waasland (Museum van de Stad en van de Oudheidkundig Kring van het Land van Waas). It is divided into the Department of Fine Art (primarily Dutch and Flemish paintings of the 17-19th C.), the Archaeological Section (prehistoric and Frankish finds), the Folklore Section, the Mathys-Vanneste Collection (furniture, porcelain, silver, a painting by Rubens, Belgian paintings of the 19th C.) and of special interest the room devoted to the great geographer Geradus Mercator. Mercator was born in Rupelmonde not far east.
Opening hours: 2pm-5pm; Sun: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Three other collections belong to the museum and these are all housed in a building at Regentiestraat 65 (a little north of the museum). The collections include those concerned with the International Exhibition Center with 90,000 exhibits and 150 relief plates, the "Barbierama", a collection of toilet articles and hairdressers' implements, and a collection of musical automata such as phonographs and gramophones.
In Oostjachtpark 15 can be found an organ museum with fair organs, barrel organs and street organs.
De Ster Recreation Park
In this amusement park, visitors can enjoy many activities for adults and children. The site has all the makings of a modern water park, with minigolf, go-carts and numerous other sports events. The area also includes a beach and bathing lake, a children's farm, and an herb garden.On or in the water, visitors can find pedal boats, sail boats, canoes and sailboards.The highlight of the park though is the four waterslides.For food, visitors can stop off at one of the restaurants or can bring their own lunches to eat under the awning.
Festival of Peace
The Festival of Peace is held in Sint-Niklaas in September.