Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai (2000)
Back to index
|The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Tournai was built in the first half of the
12th century. It is especially distinguished by a Romanesque nave of
extraordinary dimensions, a wealth of sculpture on its capitals and a transept
topped by five towers, all precursors of the Gothic style. The choir, rebuilt in
the 13th century, is in the pure Gothic style.
Tournai, also Tournay (Dutch Doornik), is located in southwestern Belgium, in the province of Hainault, on the Schelde River, also called the Escaut River. Noted for the manufacture of carpets and textiles, Tournai also has plants producing steel, cement, textile machinery, electric motors, and diesel engines.
|| Its most famous edifice is the 11th-century Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, with a pointed Gothic choir completed in the 14th century. The cathedral is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Northern Europe.
Other noteworthy buildings include a belfry, the oldest in Belgium, built in 1187 and restored in the 19th century; the Church of Saint Quentin, rebuilt several times since it was created in the 12th century; and the Church of Saint Brice, containing the tomb of Childeric I, a 5th-century king of the Franks, in which 300 gold models of bees were discovered.
The site of the Roman Civitas Nerviorum or Turnacum, Tournai is one of the oldest settlements of Belgium. In the 5th century the Merovingian kings made the town their royal residence.
Tournai was at various times in the possession of the Netherlands, Spain, and France, the last relinquishing its control in 1748. In World War II (1939-1945), during the 1940 German invasion of Belgium, Tournai was partly destroyed.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Tournai bears witness to a considerable exchange of influence between the architecture of the Ile de France, the Rhineland, and Normandy during the short period at the beginning of the 12th century that preceded the flowering of Gothic architecture. In its imposing dimensions, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Tournai is an outstanding example of the great edifices of the school of the north of the Seine, precursors of the vastness of the Gothic cathedrals.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Belgium (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Belgium section, for further information about the individual properties.
Back to index
Revised 18 aug 2007