Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut.
Along with Tongeren, Tournai is the oldest city in Belgium and it has played an important role in the country's cultural history.
During the 15th century, the city's textile trade boomed and it became an important supplier of tapestry. The art of painting flourished too: Jacques Daret, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden all came from Tournai. It was conquered in 1513 by Henry VIII of England, making it the only Belgian city ever to have been ruled by England. It was also represented in the 1515 Parliament of England. The city was handed back to French rule in 1519.
One century later, in 1668, the city briefly returned to France under Louis XIV in the Treaty of Aachen. After the end of the War of Spanish Succession in 1713, under terms of the Treaty of Utrecht the former Spanish Netherlands, including Tournai, came into possession of the Austrian Habsburgs. From 1815 on, following the Napoleonic Wars, Tournai formed part of the United Netherlands and after 1830 of newly independent Belgium. Badly damaged in 1940, Tournai has since been carefully restored.
- The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai. It has been classified both as a Wallonia's major heritage since 1936 and as a World Heritage Site since 2000. There was a diocese centered at Tournai from the late 6th century and this structure of local blue-gray stone occupies rising ground near the south bank of the Scheldt, which divides the city of Tournai into two roughly equal parts. Begun in the 12th century on even older foundations, the building combines the work of three design periods with striking effect, the heavy and severe character of the Romanesque nave contrasting remarkably with the Transitional work of the transept and the fully developed Gothic of the choir. The transept is the most distinctive part of the building, with its cluster of five bell towers and apsidal (semicircular) ends.
- The belfry of Tournai is a freestanding bell tower of medieval origin, 72 metres in height with a 256-step stairway. This landmark building is one of a set of belfries of Belgium and France registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Construction of the belfry began around 1188 when King Philip Augustus of France granted Tournai its town charter, conferring among other privileges the right to mount a communal bell to ring out signals to the townsfolk. The tower in its original form was evocative of the feudal keep, with a square cross section and crenelated parapet. It served in part as a watchtower for spotting fires and enemies. The growing city saw fit to expand the belfry in 1294, raising it by an additional stage, and buttressing its corners with four polygonal towerlets. A soldier statue was placed atop each towerlet, and a dragon icon surmounted the entire structure. The dragon, symbol of power and vigilance, also adorns other old tower tops in Belgium, including those of the Cloth Hall of Ypres and the belfry of Ghent.
- The Museum of Fine Arts. Inaugurated on Sunday 17th June 1928, the Museum of Fine Arts is a building created by the genius for spatial conception, Belgian great Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta. He conceived it especially for presenting the very rich collections bequeathed to the city by the Brussels mecenas Henri Van Cutsem, deceased in 1904. The combinaition of the rooms that radiate from the central polygonal entrance hall is so original that the building itself deserves a visit. The collections shown include many ancient paintings, which added to the works bequeathed by Henri Van Cutsem, together with purchases, deposits, gifts and legacies, permit to offer the visitors an interesting overvieuw of the pictorial production history from the 15th century up to now.
- Tournai Town Hall Before 1940, the accesses of the Town Hall contained some visible vestiges of the Gothic cloister erected in around 1500 by Abbot Jean le Flameng and a garden that was open towards the municipal park. The deambulatory of the cloister’s only remaining wing was adulterated by the addition of a floor and by the obstruction of its ogival bays by bricks and bars, as well as by its division into administrative offices.
After the Second World War, the restoration of the building gave the deambulatory back all of its imposing presence with its brick and stone vaults and enabled its original Gothic appearance to be returned to it. One can still admire, on one of the keystones, Jean le Flameng’s coat of arms.
- The Pont des Trous is one of the country’s most prestigious monuments of mediaeval military architectural remains. This former aqueduct belonged to the second municipal precinct and defended the Scheldt with its enormous grids. The architectural structure includes two towers: The one known as The Bourdiel (1281) on left bank and the other, known as The Thieulerie, on the right bank (1302-1304). The curtain wall is perforated with bays and arrow-slits. This bridge has had its fair share of ups and downs. In 1340, an attack on the city by King Edward III of England damaged its pillars. Later, in 1940, the English blew it up. At the time of its reconstruction in 1947, the towers and pillars were elevated by 2.40 metres in order to facilitate the passage of the ships.