|— Municipality of Belgium —|
|• Mayor||Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven (MR)|
|• Governing party/ies||LB - PS-SP.A-CDH|
|• Total||17.74 km2 (6.85 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2012)|
|• Density||6,300/km2 ( 16,000/sq mi)|
|• Foreigners||23.26% (7 January 2005)|
Anderlecht (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑndərˌlɛçt]; French pronunciation: [ɑ̃dɛʁlɛkt]) is one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels-Capital Region. There are several historically and architecturally distinct districts within the Anderlecht municipality.
Origins and medieval times
The first traces of human activity on the right bank of the Senne date from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. The remnants of a Roman villa and of a Frankish necropolis were also found on the territory of Anderlecht. The first mention of the name Anderlecht, however, dates only from 1047 under the forms Anrelech, then Andrelet (1111), Andreler (1148), and Anderlech (1186). At that time, this community was already home to a chapter of canons and to two feudal manors, those of the powerful lords of Aa and of Anderlecht.
In 1356, Louis of Male, Count of Flanders fought against Brussels on the territory of Anderlecht, in the so-called Battle of Scheut, supposedly over a monetary matter. Although he defeated his sister-in-law, Joanna, Duchess of Brabant, and briefly took her title, she regained it the following year with the help of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1393, Joanna’s charter made Anderlecht a part of Brussels. It is also around this time that the church of Saint Guido was rebuilt above the earlier Romanesque crypt in the Brabant Gothic style.
15th century until now
The city of Anderlecht became a beacon of culture in the 15th and 16th century. In 1521, Erasmus lived in the canons’ house for a few months. Charles, Duke of Aumale and Grand Veneur of France also had a residence here.
The 17th and 18th century were marked by the wars between the Low Countries and France. On November 13, 1792, right after the Battle of Jemappes, General Dumouriez and the French Revolutionary army routed the Austrians here once again. Among the consequences were the disbanding of the canons and Anderlecht being proclaimed an independent commune by the French. The 19th century saw a remarkable population growth, mainly because of the proximity to a rapidly expanding Brussels. Remarkable new urban developments and garden cities such as Het Rad and Moortenbeek were built at the beginning of the 20th century to house the influx of newcomers. Today, the name Anderlecht rings a bell in every Belgian ear thanks to its very successful football club.
The annual Anderlecht fair, originally a cattle fair, was authorized by William II of the Netherlands in 1825. Since then, it has taken the form of a series of celebrations, which still include animal shows but also outdoors exhibitions, a floral show, and the recreation of a religious procession in honor of Saint Guido.
- The Collegial Church of Saint Peter and Saint Guido is still at the centre of the city. Its Romanesque crypt dates from the 10th century and is one of the oldest in Belgium. Most of the church, however, dates from 1350 and later.
- Right next to the church, the old beguinage is home to a local historical museum.
- The “House of Erasmus”, built around 1450, and its medicinal garden can be visited nearby.
- Anderlecht also offers the Cantillon Brewery - a gueuze museum housed in an actual working brewery, and a China museum, housed in a convent of the CICM Missionaries.
- The Jean-Claude Van Damme statue located on the Boulevard Sylvain Dupuis, near the Westland Shopping Center.
- Desiderius Erasmus, humanist and theologian (1466–1536)
- Philippe Thys, cyclist and three-time champion of the Tour de France (1890–1971)
- Maurice Carême, poet (1899–1978)
- Régine, singer and inventor of the discothèque (b. 1929)
- Henri Simonet, politician and mayor (1931–1996)
- William Vance, comic book artist (b. 1935)
- Jacques Simonet, politician and mayor (1963–2007)
Twin towns — sister cities
Anderlecht is twinned with:
- Boulogne-Billancourt, France
- Berlin-Neukölln, Germany
- London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, United Kingdom
- Zaandam, Netherlands
- Marino, Italy
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