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Gravelines ( ) is a commune in the Nordmarker department in northern Francemarker.

It lies at the mouth of the river Aamarker 15 miles (25 km) southwest of Dunkirkmarker. There is a market in the town square (Place Charles Valentin) on Saturdays. The "Arsenal" approached from the town square is home to an extensive and carefully displayed art collection. There are modern bronze statues in the grounds.

History

In the early 12th century, Saint-Omermarker was an important port in western Flanders. However silting gradually cut it off from the North Seamarker, resulting in the construction of a canal to the new coast at what is now Gravelines. The name is derived from the Dutch Gravenenga, meaning Count's Canal. The new town became heavily fortified as it guarded the western borders of Spanishmarker territory in Flanders.

There was a famous Meeting at Gravelines in 1520, between the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII of England. There were also two battles fought nearby: the first was a land battle in 1558 resulting in a victory by Spanish forces of Lamoral, Count of Egmont over the Frenchmarker under Marshal Paul des Thermes, while the second was a naval attack using fire ships in 1588 launched by England's Royal Navy under Lord Howard against the Spanish Armada at anchor.

The town was captured and recaptured several times by the French and Spanish between 1639 and 1658, and finally annexed to France in the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659.

Only in the 19th century did the population become totally French speaking.

Associated towns

Gravelines has been associated with Dartfordmarker in the Englishmarker county of Kentmarker.Gravelines is also associated with Fáskrúðsfjörður in Iceland.

Economy

Now the city is mainly known for its nuclear energy plantmarker.

Image:Georges Seurat 015.jpg|Canal of Gravelines, Georges Seurat, 1890.Image:Georges Seurat 017.jpg|Canal of Gravelines, Petit-Fort-Philippe, Georges Seurat, 1890.

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