Tournai Cathedral is one of the most outstanding places in Belgium. Located south of the Scheldt, this cathedral is made of blue-gray stone, which is very common in the region.
The construction of this building dates from the twelfth century and has three apparent architectural trends, according to the constructs that were added throughout the long history of this unique cathedral. An example of this is the nave, which is constructed in a Romanesque style. The cathedral has elements like severe and heavy lines, very typical of this style, the Gothic-style chorus, and finally to the transept, which was designed in a transitional style. The combination of these styles is largely responsible for the unique appearance of this building.
The part of the transept is what draws the most attention of those ve come with the desire of visiting this cathedral, as it is located bell towers composed of five towers which display a domed apse. These towers are square in shape but vary in their details, for example, some of the arches that adorn them are semicircular and others are pointed, which makes clear the fusion of styles present in this section of the building.
Tournai is a small town, which goes unnoticed in Belgium where most of the attention is directed to Bruges, Ghent and Brussels, but there are other cities that are worth visiting, like Tournai, which has an impressive Unesco heritage cathedral, as is its "Befroi" (a bell tower), and also has charming streets and squares. To know more, you'll have to discover it for yourself.
Tournai is a small town situated in the Belgian region of Wallonia. It has two UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the Belfry and the Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral is impressive, outside the focus falls on its five towers and inside on its naves. It is Gothic and Romanesque, with a unique feel. A few years ago an earthquake seriously affected its structure and since then work is done on it. The Belfry is a beautiful bell tower from which you can enjoy a view of the city. Apart from these two monuments, you can also see the Grand Place with its Flemish buildings and enjoy a stroll along the banks of the river. The river is located in Pont de Trous, an example of XIII century military architecture. Among the "Flemish" buildings a highlight is the "Halle aux Draps", built in 1610. Do not forget to also visit the "Red Fort," a defense tower enclosure that owes its name to the red roof deck.
The belfry of Tournai has the distinction of being the oldest in Belgium! From below, it's impressive enough, but you really have to go up. The view from the top is well worth the euro it costs. You have a breathtaking panorama of the city. Located on the Grand Place, right in front of the tourist office, this is a must see in this small Walloon city. Halfway up, you have the chance to take a breather and watch a short film about the monument's history.
From the outside, the Museum of Fine Arts will attract your eye ... it's an original Art Nouveau building, designed by architect Victor Horta. Inside, you'll find important, extensive collections, covering a period from the fifteenth century Flemish Primitives to contemporary art. Inside you can see works by Manet, Bruegel, Rubens and Watteau. Really worth a visit.
Tournai boasts a hill 147 metres above sea level (not bad for a famously flat country) from which you can enjoy scenic views of the countryside and the town. It is accessible by car, along narrow country roads, or bike path. Upon arrival, you can relax over a drink, and the kids can enjoy a playground. Perfect for a family getaway, with a miniature golf course, a small slide, a drinks stall, and games for the kids...
The city of Tournai crosses the Escaut, a major river that has made an important contribution to the city's economic development. As you walk around town, you can't fail to cross the slowly-moving river. Sometimes you might even see a heavy barge, as the river is still used to transport goods (although to a much lesser degree than in the past). An ideal place to go for a romantic stroll on a sunny day.
The old quarries in Tournai have been filled with water, forming lakes surrounded by rocks and vegetation. This is one of the most accessible, with a nice body of water. It's a quiet spot, and you can rent a rowboat for half an hour for 3.50. There's also a barbecue spot where you can grill your own meat.
Small town, big carnival! Okay, it's not exactly Rio de Janeiro, but Tournai has a great carnival, too. For three days, you can enjoy parties and events in the streets. The local groups march in traditional costumes with floats, and masked revelers sing and drink. By Sunday (the third day), all the barrels of beer are empty!
This is a beautiful vestige of medieval Belgian architecture. Completed around 1330, it should have been restored after the damage it suffered during the Second World War, but I've never seen it open during my 3 years in Tournai. Maybe someday?
This imposing, beautiful building has been recently renovated. It is located on the Eisenhower Boulevard at the end of the Rue Royale, the city's main street. Opposite the station, is a park where you can wait in more relaxing surroundings than the grey platforms. If you're under 26, you can get great discounts on your rail tickets.
I don't recommend taking a dip in the dubious waters of the River Scheldt ... if you want to swim, go to Aqua Tournai, a pool on the outskirts of the city. Here, you can enjoy a few water slides, and a snack bar. The pool was built on the site of an old quarry. Admission is 3 for adults, and 2.40 for children under 14 years.
During a bike ride, I found myself here quite by chance. Just behind the church of St Amand in Tournai, there's an old quarry, dating back to 1868. Once through the door, you find yourself in a little secret area: a place of prayer, where some candles still burn, with rows of benches to accommodate the faithful. No need to be religious to enjoy this tranquil spot.
A good bar to enjoy a cocktail. Located in a lane between St Peter's Square and the cathedral, the facade is beautiful, but the cocktails are even better! There are about 100 on the menu, for about 8 euros, all delicious. You might find too many choices ... but whatever you order, it won't disappoint. Comfortable and great atmosphere.
The Church of Saint-Brice is not in the centre, and although it can't compete in terms of grandeur with the famous cathedral, it is definitely worth a small detour. In fact, the church of St Brice is a beautiful building dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, covered with red tiles that give it a unique look. It is only a few minutes walk from the main square, across the river - a nice place to go for a little walk.
This church, on the Grand Place of Tournai, is characterised by its simplicity: indeed, you'll hardly notice it among all the beautiful buildings lining the square. Entering is like going back in time to the Middle Ages (the church dates back to the twelfth century, although the tower was built in the seventeenth). A shame to miss it if you're visiting Tournai.
A few metres from the Grand Place, the Parc Reine Astrid provides a nice green space to enjoy sunny days. Here, you'll find a carousel and a couple of fountains. In general, it's very quiet, a good place to lie on the lawn with a good book.
A few metres from the Tournai pool, you'll find Tribalaya, the recently renamed Ecopark. The park offers courses of varying difficulty suitable for all ages. Fun guaranteed! The park also hosts stag parties, birthdays, and more. 20 euros for adults, 16 for students, and 11 for young children.
For lovers of art galleries, the Musee D'Histoire Naturelle et Vivarium is one of the main places to visit in Tournai, Belgium. It's customary for many tourist to take advantage of the competitive prices for sightseeing tours of attractions in Tournai, where you can be lead to the most emblematic things to see in Tournai, learning all along the way. If you want to know what Belgian life was really like, the Musee du Folklore retains some charming artistic pieces collected throughout the country that are incomparable works of art. One of the things you must do in Tournai if you're travelling with your significant other, it's a tradition to take a moonlight stroll along the Pont des Trous, simply walking over the bridge is lovely. There are two famous spas in the city and if you intend to relax, don't hesitate, you'll understand that investing in your own relaxation is one of the best Tournai activities. And for lovers of religious art, there are a number of churches and other religious Tournai attractions that encompass the entire Renaissance and Gothic art world from the 12th to 16th centuries. Among the most famous buildings are the Eglise Saint-Quentin, the Chiesa di San Nicola, and Saint James Church. Still wondering what to do in Tournai? For the intrepid, there's nothing better to finish off all the stuff to do in Tournai with outdoor activities. Nature allowing, there are hiking trails, horse riding and rural walks.