- For the Dutch village, see Kortrijk (Netherlands)
Kortrijk (official name in Dutch; French: Courtrai; Latin: Cortoriacum) 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, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem. With about 74,000 inhabitants Kortrijk is the seventh largest city in the Flemish region.
The city is situated on the River Lys, 42 km (26 miles) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Lille in France. Both Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban area with around 1,900,000 inhabitants.
The arrondissement of Kortrijk is both a judicial and an administrative arrondissement.
Origins to the 13th century
was a typical Gallo-Roman vicus
at an important crossroads near the Lys River
). It was situated on the crossroads of the Roman roads linking Tongeren
. 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
. The 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 of Flanders 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 of linen production.
Battle of the Golden Spurs
In 1302, 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 Spurs
) 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 community
Following a new uprising by the Flemish in 1323, but this time against their own Count Louis I, the French invaded again. These Flemish acquisitions were consolidated by the French at the Battle of Cassel (1328). Louis I’s son, Louis II, then Philip van Artevelde briefly regained the city in 1381 but lost it again the following year at the Battle of Roosebeke, resulting 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 Burgundy
, in 1482, which ushered in renewed fighting with France. The 16th century was marked by the uprising of the Netherlands
in 1539, by Charles V
’s heavy-handed reprisal to it, and later by the confrontations engendered by the Reformation
. Louis XIV
’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
finally gave the whole area to the Hapsburgs, as Austrian Netherlands
After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic 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.
Tourism and Culture
Much of the city's medieval architecture
remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its center is one of the largest carfree areas
in Belgium. The beguinage, as well as the belfry, were recognized by UNESCO
as World Heritage Sites
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.
- The beguinage is one of the quaintest sites in the city, taking visitors back to the Middle Ages. It too, was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
- The church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) was where the golden spurs taken from the battlefield in 1302 were hung. It houses a famous van Dyck painting.
- the Count’s chapel (Gravenkapel), built after the example of la Sainte 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 Joseph
- Father Damienchurch
Museums in Kortrijk include:
- Kortrijk 1302: one day, seven ages, a historic museum about the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs, which gave Flanders it's official holiday (11 july)
- 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 most Belgian cities, Kortrijk offers a rich variety of local and foreign cuisine.
Famous local specialities are Kalletaart (applecake with calvados), Pepperbollen, Biscuits, chocolate little beguines
The city is host to some big cultural events such as the Guldensporenfeesten, Golden River City Jazz festival, Humorologie, Happy New Ears, Budafest and the Internationaal Festival van Vlaanderen. Also, a lot of big fairs, like Interieur
takes place in Kortrijk Xpo
, attracting numerous visitors to the city.
In July and August there are various boat tours in 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.
, a campus of the Catholic University of Leuven
, is located in on the south edge of the city. Other institutes of higher education include the KATHO
and HOWEST university colleges
Kortrijk lies at the intersection of three important highways:
- The E17: connects Kortrijk with Ghent, Sint-Niklaas and Antwerp to the north, and with Lille and Paris to the south.
- The E403: connects Kortrijk with Bruges and Ostend to the north, and with Tournai, Mons and Charleroi to the east.
- The Belgian highway A19
- 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, stadslijnen) and to many towns and villages in the region around the city (regional lines, streeklijnen).
- City buses:
- Line 1: Station - Xpo - Kinepolis (- Leiedal)
- Line 2: Station - Lange Munte
- Line 3: Station - Heule Bozestraat
- Line 4: Station - Bissegem Station - Heule Kransvijver
- Line 6: Station - Shopping Center (- Industriezone) - Heule Markt
- Line 8: Station - Pottelberg - Walle
- Line 9: Station - Cederlaan
- Line 12: Station - Kinepolis - Bellegem - Rollegem (- Aalbeke)
- 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
- regional buses
- At Kortrijk main railway station, there is a bus station where regional buses stop as well.
Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. In general, cars are lead to large undergound parkings in the historic center of Kortrijk or Park&Ride parkings at Hoog-Kortrijk. Large parts of the historic center is carfree.
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 2007-2008 season. The second club SV Kortrijk
plays in the second provincial division
. The third club, Wikings Kortrijk, only has youth teams.
KZK 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.
- Hendrik Beyaert, architect
- Francis Bonaert, architect
- John II of Brienne, Count of Eu
- Hendrik Conscience, writer
- Greg LeMond, 3-time Tour de France Winner
- Carl Colpaert, director movie industries
- Laurence Courtois, tennis player
- Edmée Daenen, pop artist
- Stefaan De Clerck, politician and mayor of Kortrijk, former Minister of Justice
- Carl de Keyzer, photographer
- Pierre de La Rue, Renaissance composer
- Ann Demeulemeester, fashion designer
- Sophie de Schaepdrijver, historian
- Stijn Devolder, road bicycle racer
- Ernest Gambart, art publisher and dealer
- Guido Gezelle, poet
- Robert Gillon (1884-1972), lawyer, politician
- 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
- Gilles Joye, Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
- 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
- Jan Palfyn (1650-1730), doctor, surgeon and inventor of the forceps
- Louis Robbe (1806-1887), painter
- Roelant Savery (1576-1639), painter
- Stijn Streuvels (1871-1969), writer
- Jacobus Vaet, Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
- Gella Vandecaveye, judoka, former world champion and Olympic silver medalist
- Guido van Gheluwe (b. 1926), founder of the Orde van den Prince
- Vincent Van Quickenborne (b. 1973), current minister of enterprise and member of the Kortrijk city council.
- Emmanuel Vierin (1869-1954), painter
- George Washington, inventor
Kortrijk participates in town twinning
to encourage good international relations.