Kortrijk ( , official name
in Dutch; ; ) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the
Flemish province West Flanders. The wider municipality comprises the city of
Kortrijk proper and the towns of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem,
Marke, and Rollegem.The city is situated on the Leie River, 42 km (26 miles) southwest of Ghent and
25 km (15 miles) northeast of Lille in France.
Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban area
around 1,900,000 inhabitants.
The arrondissement of
is both a judicial and an administrative arrondissement
Origins to the 13th century
Cortoriacum was a typical Gallo-Roman vicus at
an important crossroads near the Lys River (Dutch: Leie). It was situated on the crossroads of the
Roman roads linking Tongeren and Cassel and Tournai and Oudenburg.
In the ninth century, Baldwin II, Count of Flanders
established fortifications against the Vikings
. The town gained its city charter
in 1190 from Philip, Count of Flanders
population growth required new defensive
walls, part of which can still be seen today (the Broeltorens).
In the 13th century, the battles between Fernando of Portugal, Count
and his first cousin, King Louis VIII of France
, led to the
destruction of the city. The Counts of Flanders had it rebuilt soon
after. From that time, Kortrijk gained great importance as a centre
the second castle of Kortrijk
Battle of the Golden Spurs
the population of Bruges started a
successful uprising against the French, who had annexed Flanders a couple of years earlier.
On May 18
, the French population in that city
was massacred, an event that could not go unpunished. The famous
ensuing Battle of the Golden
) between the Flemish people
, mostly commoners and farmers, and
Philip the Fair
’s knights took
place near Kortrijk on July 11
, resulting in
a victory for Flanders. This date is now remembered as a national
holiday by the whole Flemish
Following a new uprising by the Flemish in 1323, but this time
against their own Count Louis
, the French invaded again. These Flemish acquisitions were
consolidated by the French at the Battle of Cassel
. Louis I’s son,
, then Philip van Artevelde
the city in 1381 but lost it again the following year at the
Battle of Roosebeke
in a new wave of plundering and destruction.
15th century to modern times
Most of the 15th century was prosperous under the Dukes of Burgundy
, until the death of the
Burgundian heiress, Mary of
, in 1482, which ushered in renewed fighting with
France. The 16th century was marked by the
confrontations engendered by the Reformation and the uprising of the
Netherlands against Spain. Louis
’s reign saw Kortrijk occupied by the French five times in
sixty years and its former fortifications razed to the ground. The
Treaty of Utrecht
the whole area to Austria.
After the French Revolution
era, the textile
industry, based on flax
and the general economy of the city could finally prosper again.
Kortrijk was heavily bombed in the summer of 1917, but even more
damaged by the allied bombing in 1944. The city was an important
railway hub for the German army, and for this reason was the target
of several allied air-strikes. On July 21st 1944 (the Belgian
National Day) around 300 Avro
dropped over 5000 bombs on the city center. . Many
historical buildings on the central square, as well as the old
train station, were destroyed.
After the 1977 fusion the city is made up of:
The metropolitan area
the outer commuter zone, also consists of Kuurne and Harelbeke.
Although these municipalities have strong morphologic ties with
Kortrijk, they aren't officially part of the city.
Tourism and Culture
Much of the city's medievalarchitecture
remains intact and is remarkably
well preserved and restored. The city center is one of the largest
in Belgium. The beguinage, as
well as the belfry, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and
Interesting highlights are:
- The Saint-Martin
church dates from the 13th century but was mostly rebuilt after
a fire in the 15th century. It now houses a 48-bell carillon. Its 83 meter (272 feet) tower remains the
highest building in the city.
beguinage is one of the quaintest sites in the city.
was listed by UNESCO as a
World Heritage Site.
Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) was where the
golden spurs taken from the battlefield in 1302 were hung.
It houses a famous van Dyck
Count’s chapel (Gravenkapel), built after the example of
Chapelle in Paris as
shrine for Louis II of Flanders.
- Saint-Michaelschurch; a church of the Society of Jesus
- Saint-Johnschurch in the St.-Johnsquarter; a neogotic basilica
- Groeninge Abbey
- Saint Eligiuschurch
- Saint-Pius X-church
- Saint-Anthonychurch or Toontjes kerk with the
pelgrimage of Isidore of Saint
- Father Damienchurch
Museums in Kortrijk include:
- Kortrijk 1302: seven centuries in one day, a historic
museum about the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs, which
gave Flanders its official holiday (July 11th)
- Broelmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts and
archaeological museum), with paintings by Roelant Savery and international Ceramic.
- National Flax Museum in honour of the plant
that once was the main driver of Kortrijk’s economy
- Groeninge Abbey with the Groeningemuseum. This museum gives you
an overview of Kortrijk's history.
- Beguinage museum
- Flemish Film museum and archive
- Bakery- and Millmuseum
- Museum of Agriculture
- International Rose gardens
Restaurants and culinary traditions
As with most Belgian cities, Kortrijk offers a rich variety of
local and foreign cuisine. Famous local specialities include
Kalletaart (applecake with Calvados
), Peperbollen, Biscuits, and
chocolate little beguines
. The town of Heule
is home to the notable small brewery Picobrouwerij Alvinne
The city is host to some sizable cultural events such as the
Day of the Flemish
, Golden River City Jazz festival, Humorologie, Happy
New Ears, Budafest and the Internationaal Festival van Vlaanderen.
Also, trade shows and events such as the Eurodogshow take place in
the Kortrijk Xpo
attracting numerous visitors to the city. In July and August
there are various boat tours on the river Lys.
The city is historically connected with the flax
and the textile industry, and still today the
textile industry remains important in the region. Major companies
headquartered in Kortrijk include Barco
Kortrijk serves as an educational centre in south West-Flanders,
attracting students from the entire region. There are 55 schools in
Kortrijk, on 72 different locations throughout the city, with an
estimated 21.000 students.The KULAK, a campus of
the Catholic University of Leuven, is located in on the south edge of the
Other institutes of higher education include the
and HOWEST university colleges
Kortrijk lies at the intersection of three important highways:
- In addition Kortrijk also has two ringways:
- The R8: connects the outskirts of Kortrijk with each other and
the surrounding villages, and also leads to the A19, E403 and E17 roads.
- The R36: connects the different downtown quarters with each
other, and provides access to the main avenues.
- To municipality of Kortrijk comprises three train stations:
Public city transport
Kortrijk has an extensive web of public transport lines, operated
by De Lijn
, providing access to the
city centre and the suburbs (city lines, ) and to many towns and
villages in the region around the city (regional lines, ).
- City buses:
- Line 1: Station - Xpo - Kinepolis (-
- Line 2: Station - Lange Munte
- Line 3: Station - Heule Bozestraat
- Line 4: Station - Bissegem Station - Heule Kransvijver
- Line 6: Station - Shopping Center (- Industriezone) - Heule
- Line 8: Station - Pottelberg - Walle
- Line 9: Station - Cederlaan
- Line 12: Station - Kinepolis - Bellegem - Rollegem (-
- Line 13: Station - Hoog Kortrijk - Station
- Line 50: Station - Kuurne Seizoenswijk
- Line 51: Station - Kuurne Sint-Pieter
- Line 80/81: Station - Marke
- Line 91/92/93: Station - Zwevegem
main railway station, there is a bus station where regional buses stop
Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. In general,
cars are led to large underground parkings in the historic center
of Kortrijk or Park&Ride parkings at outside the city center.
Large parts of the historic center are car free.
- Kortrijk has three official football clubs. The most famous of
them is K.V. Kortrijk, which plays in the Belgian First Division after having
won the championship in the Belgian second division during the
- The second club SV Kortrijk plays in
the second provincial
- The third club, Wikings Kortrijk, only has youth teams.
- Kortrijk Sport CB
- Basketbalteam Kortrijk
- As anywhere in Flanders, professional cycling is very popular.
Many cycling races start, finish or pass through the Kortrijk
region. Amongst them are the Driedaagse van
West-Vlaanderen, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Dwars door Vlaanderen. Kortrijk also
hosts an after-tour criterium at the start
of August called Kortrijk Koerse. Many of the riders who
participated in the Tour de France usually appear at the
- Tennis Club De Egelantier
Kortrijk is arguably the best waterpolo
team in Belgium, having won
the Belgian championship nine times. In the 2007-2008 season
they won both the championship and the Belgian cup.
though Kortrijk is a Dutch speaking town, it borders with Wallonia, and is only 9 km (6 miles) away from the
This has created an urban area that
extends across linguistic and national borders. The mayors of Lille,
Kortrijk and Tournai met in Kortrijk on January 28 2008 to sign a
document creating the first European Grouping
of Territorial Cooperation within the EU.
The purpose of
this new organisation is to facilitate the movement of people
within this area of nearly 2 million people.
- Hendrik Beyaert, architect
- Francis Bonaert, architect
- John II of Brienne,
Count of Eu
- Hendrik Conscience, writer
- Nico F. Declercq,
Physicist and Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in
Atlanta and Metz
- Greg LeMond, 3-time Tour de France
- Carl Colpaert, director movie
- Laurence Courtois, tennis player
- Edmée Daenen, pop artist
- Stefaan De Clerck, politician and mayor of
Kortrijk, current Minister of
- Carl de Keyzer, photographer
- Pierre de La Rue, Renaissance composer
- Ann Demeulemeester, fashion designer
- Sophie de Schaepdrijver,
- Stijn Devolder, road bicycle
- Ernest Gambart, art publisher and
- Guido Gezelle, poet
- Robert Gillon (1884-1972), lawyer,
- Piet Goddaer, singer-composer,
mostly under the name:Ozark Henry
- Paul Goethals
(1832-1901), first Archbishop of Calcutta
- The members of electro rock band Goose
- Leif Hoste, road bicycle racer
- Gilles Joye, Franco-Flemish composer of the
- Xavier Malisse, tennis player
- Isidore of Saint Joseph
(1881-1916), Passionist brother, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984
- Morris, creator of Lucky Luke
- Hanne Gaby Odiele, model
- Jan Palfyn (1650-1730), doctor, surgeon and
inventor of the forceps
- Arne Quinze (1971-), designer and conceptual artist
- Jan Robbe (1980-), electronic artist and founder of Entity
- Louis Robbe (1806-1887), painter
- Roelant Savery (1576-1639),
- Stijn Streuvels (1871-1969),
- Jacobus Vaet, Franco-Flemish composer of the
- Gella Vandecaveye, judoka, former world champion and Olympic silver
- Guido van Gheluwe (b. 1926),
founder of the Orde van den
- Vincent Van
Quickenborne (b. 1973), current minister of enterprise and member of
the Kortrijk city council.
- Emmanuel Vierin (1869-1954),
- George Washington,
- Bruno de Witte (1955-), European law Professor,
Kortrijk participates in town twinning
to encourage good international relations.