Tournai Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Tournai
Tournai (Flemish Doornik) lies on both banks of the Scheldt (French Escaut) near the Belgian/French border. As the administrative capital of an arrondissement, a seat of a bishop and of a Chamber of Industry and Trade and of a law court, Tournai is of more than administrative and cultural importance and possesses major industries.
Several attractive but mostly reconstructed buildings testify to the prosperity of the old princely residence and episcopal town. Most of the works of the celebrated medieval school of painting were however destroyed by the iconoclasts in 1566. Cement works, engineering, food processing and a traditional textile industry, especially carpet weaving, form the basis of the town's economy.Tournai has always been the most important market for the surrounding agricultural area.Tournai is after Tongeren the oldest town in the country. Its origin was a settlement, Christianized by St Piat in the third C., on the Roman road between Cologne and Boulogne and by the fourth C. it was already a considerable fortress. In the mid-15th C. Frankish Salians arrived and made Tournai the capital of their kingdom. In 482 King Childerich, whose son Chlodwig was born here in 465, died in Tournai. Chlodwig moved the royal residence to Soissons, but elevated Tournai under St Eleutherius to the status of a bishopric which soon fell to the county of Flanders and which from 1188 was French. When the cathedral and several churches were built in the 12th and 13th C. the prosperity of the town began to increase and it became the center of stonemasonry, drawing its material from nearby quarries. In the Hundred Years' War Tournai remained the only large town in Flanders on the side of France and withstood the siege in 1340 by the English king Edward III. In the 15th C., thanks to its celebrated carpet making, the town experienced a flowering and its school of painting (Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden) achieved international fame. In 1521 Charles V was the new ruler and he ceded Tournai to the Spanish Netherlands, the varied fate of which it shared from then on. Conquered by Louis XIV in 1667 and subsequently fortified by Vauban, Tournai fell to the Austrian Netherlands in 1714. In 1750 a new period of considerable artistic achievement began with the manufacture of porcelain, but this ceased in 1891 with the closing of the factory.In 1794 Tournai belonged once more to France and in 1814 it became part of the United Netherlands until 1830 when it was finally Belgian. The First World War left the town virtually intact but on May 16, 1940 a violent bombing attack destroyed the greater part of the historic buildings but not the cathedral; however, much was capable of restoration.Some of the notable attractions in Tournai include the Romanesque and Gothic-style cathedral of Notre Dame de Tournai and its belfry, which have been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Other places of interest are the 13th-century Scheldt bridge and the main square (Grand'Place), as well as a variety of museums.
The Cathedrale Notre-Dame in Tournai is grand and striking. A classic example of Romanesque architecture, the church is renowned for its architecture. The Cathedrale is distinctly visible in the skyline of Tournai.
Procession of the Plague
This annual religious festival is celebrated on the second Sunday in September. The festival commemorates the end of the 11th century plague, while at the same time honoring the Virgin Mary who was credited with destroying the disease. The festival has been held since 1090 and includes processions of the local church treasures. Musical and traditional events are held alongside the procession.
Day of the Four Processions
This annual festival is celebrated on the second Sunday in June. Some of the events held throughout the day include a carnival procession, complete with stilted giants and colorful clowns, an advertising float procession and a traditional parade led by the Knight of the Tower.
Antiques and Flea Market
Grand Procession of Notre-Dame des Malades
International Folk Dance Festival
Tournai Seen by Boat
A cruise boat is an excellent way to see this ancient Belgian town.
Map of Tournai Attractions