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Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

Tournai: one of the most beautiful towns of Belgium

Tournai (about 70,000 inhabitants), is a town in the province of Hinault in Wallonia, located 10 km from the border with France, on both banks of the Scheldt.

The origins of Tournai are made traced back to Roman military Tornacum founded the middle of the first century AD, during the Middle Ages, the small centre was occupied by Franks and then destroyed by the Normans.

In the thirteenth century it was surrounded by walls, corresponding to the route of existing boulevards.

Between 12th and 15th century, Tournai was an important cultural center, particularly sculpture, and Flemish painting, the city developed thanks to the presence of limestone quarries used for the manufacture of lime and stone cutting as used to decorate the cathedral.

Cathedral, Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Cathedral, Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

In the eighteenth century became an important ceramics center, whose main manufacturing, founded in 1750, produced until the end of the nineteenth century porcelain of good quality. During World War II Tournai was seriously damaged by bombing, which in May 1940 it almost completely destroyed the historic centre.

In 2000, UNESCO has included the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Tournai in the list of heritages of humanity, UNESCO also included the Belfry Tournai, between Beffrois of Belgium and France heritage of humanity.

Tournai tourist attractions: what to see in Tournai

Grand-Place, is the central square of Tournai, triangular, it’s surrounded by noble palaces of the seventeenth century and is dominated by the Belfry (now UNESCO World Heritage), the civic tower of the 12th century, the tower rises to 72 metres above the square and inside houses a carillon of 43 bells. Among the buildings around the square are the Halle aux Draps (the market tissue) fine Renaissance built in 1610, the Conciergerie des Halles, 1612, the Hotel du Bailliage (royal court) of 1640, and the Granary Decime of the St. Martin Abbey (Grange aux Dimes de l’Abbaye Saint-Martin) of 1633. At one end of the square is the Church of Saint-Quentin, twelfth century.

A short distance from the Grand-Place is the majestic Cathedral of Notre-Dame (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the Romanesque style, is one of the most important architectural monuments of Belgium, built in the first half of the twelfth century, is dominated by five towers places above the transept, the building has a great internal aisle to four storeys, all architectural solutions precursors of the Gothic style; notable is the wealth of sculptures in its capitals, and its portals, particularly in the north portal (1141-71).

Only the choir is pure Gothic (1242-55). Inside are kept numerous works of art including a famous Crucifixion of Christ called Tournai Christ, as well as paintings by Metsys, Jordaens, Rubens, and a small museum of medieval treasures, including a Byzantine cross with enamel, pearls and precious stones the fifth century, and the case of Notre-Dame, Nicolas de Verdun, 1205, and antique tapestries.

Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Tournai, Belgium. Author Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

The current Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) is located on the premises of the Abbey of St. Martin (Abbaye Saint-Martin), the building built in 1763 is surrounded by a beautiful park.

Among other churches in the city: the Church of Saint-Jacques, Gothic church, with murals of the fifteenth century, and the Church of Saint-Brice. Among the works of fortifications significant is the so-called Fort Rouge, a defensive tower of the thirteenth century.

The Pont des Trous represents one of the most important vestiges of military medieval Belgium, part of the second walls (13th-14th century), is a fortified bridge which defended the course of the Scheldt in the stretch in which crossed the city, the bridge could reduce grids that closed the pace to craft, the bridge is defended by two massive towers the Tour de la Thieulerie (1302-1304) and the Tour du Bourdiel, on the side of the Cathedral (1281). Of the walls of the city remain some ruins of the first wall municipal twelfth century in rue Saint-Georges, place Reine Astrid and in the garden of Episcopal Seminary. While were part of the second wall of municipal thirteenth century, whose path is the path of the current boulevard, the Pont des Trous, and the towers Marvis and Saint-Jean.

WHAT TO VISIT: TOURNAI MUSEUMS

The Museum of Archaeology (Musée d’Archéologie), situated in the old Mount of piety building is divided into three sections, quaternary, Gallo-Roman and Merovingian.

The Royal Museum of Arms and Military History (Royal Musée d’Armes et d’Histoire Militaire), formed by a dozen rooms, with weapons of the Napoleonic period, weapons coming from African-Belgian Congo, weapons of the Belgian navy, Weapons of World War II, the foreign legion.

The Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts), presents a collection of paintings of Flemish primitives (R. Campin, R. de le Pasture, J. Gossart, Bruegel), works of the seventeenth and eighteenth century by Rubens, Watteau, etc., and Impressionist (Manet, Monet, Seurat, Van Gogh) as well as works by local painters. The Museum of Folklore (Maison Tournaisienne – Folklore Museum), dedicated to the history of the house and folklore of Tournais. The Museum of Natural History and the Vivarium (Musée d’Histoire naturelle et Vivarium), dedicated to the history of the animal world, also includes a Vivarium containing more than 70 species of reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

The Museum of History of Arts Decorartive (Musée d’Histoire et des Arts décoratifs), museum dedicated to the history of artistic productions of Tournais: pottery, coins, silverware, objects. The Tapestry Museum of Art and Cloth (Musée de la Tapisserie des arts et du tissu). The Centre de la Marionnette de la Communauté Française de Belgique.

CLIMATE: WHEN TO GO TO TOURNAI

The climate of Tournai is a temperate continental climate, Atlantic type, with extreme variability and widespread rainfall in all months of the year, with relatively cold winters and cool summers.

The average annual precipitation is 640 mm, the rains are well distributed, but slightly more rainy months are those between May and December.

The average maximum temperature varies between 23°C in July to 6°C in January, while the average minimum temperatures ranging between 13°C in July and 1°C in January.

TOURNAI CLIMATE TABLES

TOURNAI (22 metres)
Month Average low (°C) Average high (°C) Precip. (mm) Precip. days
January 1 6 48
February 1 6 41
March 3 9 43
April 4 12 43
May 8 17 51
June 11 19 56
July 13 22 61
August 13 23 58
September 11 19 56
October 7 14 64
November 4 9 61
December 2 7 58
YEAR 640

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