|• Mayor||Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD)|
|• Governing party/ies||Open VLD, N-VA, sp.a|
|• Total||80.02 km2 (30.90 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2016)|
|• Density||940/km2 (2,400/sq mi)|
|Postal codes||85xx (8500, 8501, 8510, 8511)|
Kortrijk (in English also Courtrai or Courtray; official name in Dutch: Kortrijk, pronounced [ˈkɔrtrɛi̯k]; West Flemish: Kortryk or Kortrik, French: Courtrai, pronounced: [kuʁtʁɛ]; Latin: Cortoriacum) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province West Flanders.
It is the capital and largest city of the arrondissement of Kortrijk, which is both a judicial and an administrative arrondissement. The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the villages of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem. Kortrijk is part of the cross-border Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai (metropolitan area), which had 2,155,161 residents in 2008.
The city is situated on the Leie, 42 km (26 mi) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Lille in France. In addition, Mouscron in Wallonia is located just south of Kortrijk. Both Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban agglomeration with around 1,900,000 inhabitants. As the biggest city of southern West Flanders, Kortrijk has many schools, hospitals and shopping streets.
Kortrijk originated from a Gallo-Roman town, called Cortoriacum at a crossroads near the Leie river and two Roman roads. During the Middle Ages, Kortrijk grew significantly thanks to the flax and wool industry with France and England and became one of the biggest and richest cities in Flanders. The city is often referred to as City of Groeninge or City of the Golden Spurs, referring to the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs which took place on 11 July 1302 on the Fields of Groeninge in Kortrijk. In 1820, the Treaty of Kortrijk was signed, which laid out the current borders between France and Belgium. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, Kortrijk became a center of the flax industry and remains an important region within the Belgian textile industry today.
Today, Kortrijk is the largest city in southern West-Flanders with several hospitals, colleges and a university. Kortrijk was the first city in Belgium with a pedestrian shopping street, called the Korte Steenstraat. Nowadays, a big part of the historical city center is a complete pedestrian area with lots of shops and a covered shopping mall called K, as well as many restaurants and bars. Another shopping mall is located near the northern edge of the city: Ring Shopping Kortrijk Noord.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Main sights
- 4 Transport
- 5 Economy
- 6 Education
- 7 European cooperation
- 8 Culture
- 9 Leisure
- 10 Sports
- 11 Notable citizens
- 12 Town twinning
- 13 Photo gallery
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Origins to the 13th century
Cortoriacum was a typical Gallo-Roman vicus at an important crossroads near the Leie river. It was situated on the crossroads of the Roman roads linking Tongeren and Cassel and Tournai and Oudenburg. In the 9th 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. To promote industry and weaving in the town, Joan, Countess of Flanders exempted settlers in Kortrijk from property tax. 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 18 May the French population in that city was massacred, an event that could not go unpunished. The famous ensuing Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs (Dutch: Guldensporenslag) between the Flemish people, mostly commoners and farmers, and Philip the Fair’s knights took place near Kortrijk on 11 July, 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
The 16th century was marked by the confrontations engendered by the Reformation and the uprising of the Netherlands against Spain.
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 21 July 1944 (the Belgian National Day) around 300 Avro Lancasters dropped over 5,000 bombs on the city centre. Many historical buildings on the central square, as well as the old railway station, were destroyed.
After the 1977 fusion the city is made up of:
The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, also consists of Kuurne, Wevelgem, Zwevegem and Harelbeke. Although these municipalities have strong morphologic ties with Kortrijk, they aren't officially part of the city.
Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. The city center is one of the largest carfree areas in Belgium. The béguinage, as well as the belfry, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999. Interesting highlights are:
- Medieval City Hall (on the main square, the Grote Markt). The façade of the late-Gothic, early Renaissance city hall is adorned with the statues of the Counts of Flanders.
- The belfry is surmounted by a statue of Mercury, god of the merchants. The belfry is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
- Near-identical medieval Broel Towers with the bridge in between that spans the river Leie. (the Speyetower and the Ingelburgtower)
- Artillerytower (Artillerietoren)
- Mont de Piété (Berg van Barmhartigheid or house of Mercy)
- Weigh house (Stadswaag) on the St.Michael-square
- Our Lady Hospital (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwehospitaal), founded in 1200–1204.
- Baggaertshof, often called Kortrijk's second Beguinage, contains a Botanical garden
- Groeningekouter contains the Groeningegate and the Groeninge Monument, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs
- 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. 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 Neo-Gothic basilica
- Groeninge Abbey
- Saint Eligiuschurch
- Saint-Pius X-church
- Saint-Anthonychurch or Toontjes kerk with the pilgrimage of Isidore of Saint Joseph
- 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 (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. This museum will be relocated.
- Groeninge Abbey with the Groeningemuseum. This museum gives you an overview of Kortrijk's history.
- Beguinage museum located in the old town, in the béguinage.
- Flemish Film museum and archive
- Bakery- and Millmuseum, located in an old windmill.
- Museum of Agriculture
- International Rose gardens, located in the park of the Castle t Hooghe, in the Hoog-Kortrijk quarter just in front of Kortrijk Xpo.
Kortrijk lies at the intersection of three highways:
- The E17: connects Kortrijk with Ghent, Sint-Niklaas and Antwerp to the northeast, and with Lille and Paris to the south-west.
- The E403: connects Kortrijk with Bruges and Ostend to the north, and with Tournai, Mons and Charleroi to the south-east.
- The Belgian highway A19: connects Kortrijk with Ypres and the Belgian coast.
- In addition Kortrijk also has two ringways:
- The municipality of Kortrijk has two railway stations:
- Kortrijk main railway station: an international railway station with direct connections to Brugge Centraal (Bruges), Brussel Zuid, Antwerp, Ghent, Poperinge, Oudenaarde, other Belgian towns and Lille in France. The station also offers a direct connection to Brussels Airport.
- Bissegem Station: a regional railway station in the village of Bissegem with connections to Ypres.
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, Dutch: stadslijnen) and to many towns and villages in the region around the city (regional lines, Dutch: streeklijnen).
- City buses:
- Line 1: Station – Kortrijk Xpo – Kinepolis – Leiedal
- Line 2: Station – Lange Munte
- Line 4: Station – Bissegem Station – Heule Kransvijver
- Line 50: Station – Kuurne Seizoenswijk
- Line 51: Station – Kuurne Sint-Pieter
- Line 6: Station – Shopping Center (- Industriezone) – Heule Markt
- Line 9: Station – Cederlaan
- Line 12: Station – Kinepolis – Bellegem – Rollegem (- Aalbeke)
- Line 13: Station – Hoog Kortrijk
- 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.
- The city has an airport known as Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport, which is mainly used for business travel and medical flights. Kortrijk Airport is located northwest of the citycentre, next to the R8 ringroad.
- The national Brussels Airport, one hour away by train or car, offers the best international connectivity.
- The Lille Lesquin International Airport is located 35 kilometres from Kortrijk.
From the 1970s on, the planning and later the execution of the so-called Leiewerken (Leieworks) started. These construction works comprise the deepening and widening of the river. This should enable ships with 4400 tons to navigate from France to the Scheldt. At the same time, this project includes a thorough urban renewal of the riversides in the city. Seven new bridges have to give a new architectural impulse to the river quarters as well as the construction of several new parks along the river. Four bridges already opened (Dambrug, Groeningebrug, Ronde van Vlaanderenbrug and Collegebrug). The Noordbrug was scheduled to open in 2010. The Budabrug and Reepbrug are planned after the opening of the Noordbrug. The construction works started in 1997 and should be ready in 2012.
Cycling and pedestrian areas
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.
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 Cisco, Barco and Bekaert.
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 city also provides higher education. The Kortrijk University, the KULAK, a campus of the Catholic University of Leuven, is located in on the south edge of the city, in the Hoog Kortrijk quarter. Other institutes of higher education include the Katholieke Hogeschool Zuid-West-Vlaanderen (KATHO) and Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (HOWEST) university colleges. There is also a campus of Ghent University.
Even though Kortrijk is a Dutch-speaking town, it borders with Wallonia, and is only 9 km (5.6 mi) away from the French border. This has created an urban area that extends across linguistic and national borders. The mayors of Lille, Kortrijk and Tournai met in Kortrijk on 28 January 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.
Theatres and concert venues
- Kortrijk has several cultural centres, each comprising different locations:
- Cultural Centre Kortrijk
- City Theatre (De Schouwburg, see picture), a neo-Renaissance architecture theatre known for its glass ceiling, an artwork of the French-Algerian artist Alberola
- Antigone Theatre
- Buda Kunstencentrum (Buda Arts Centre), comprising the cinema Budascoop, the artists residence Tacktower and the artists creation space Budafactory
- The Concertstudio
- Music Centre Track*
- Concert venue De Kreun
- Kinepolis, a modern cinema multiplex with 10 screens.
- Budascoop, a 5 screen cinema, specialised in European movies.
Festivals and events
The city is host to some sizable cultural events such as:
- Day of the Flemish Community (11 July)
- Golden River City Jazz Festival (first weekend of September)
- Humorologie: cabaret festival
- Next: arts festival in the Eurodistrict Kortrijk-Lille-Tournai
- Happy New Ears: festival of experimental modern music
- Budafest: theatre festival
- The Internationaal Festival van Vlaanderen (April–May): several concerts of classical and modern music.
- Novarock: rock festival in Kortrijk Xpo
- Easter Carnival (Paasfoor): during the weeks after Easter
- Sinxenfestival: one of the most vivid festivals downtown with street artists, concerts and flea markets all over town
- Kortrijk Congé (July)
- Summer Carnival (weekend in August)
- Student Welcome Concert: rock festival to celebrate the start of the new academic year at the Kortrijk University and the Kortrijk Colleges.
Also, trade shows and events such as the international Design Fair Interieur, Busworld and the Eurodogshow take place in the Kortrijk Xpo event center. These fairs attract numerous visitors to the city.
In July and August there are various boat tours on the river Leie.
Local specialities include Kalletaart (applecake with Calvados), Peperbollen, Biscuits, and chocolate little beguines. The town of Heule is home to the small brewery Picobrouwerij Alvinne, while Bellegem is the hometown of brewery Bockor.
- Kortrijk was the very first city in Belgium who created a fully pedestrian shopping street (in 1962, the Korte Steenstraat). Later on, a lot of neighbouring streets were also transformed into pedestrian streets. As a result, Kortrijk has nowadays one of the biggest carfree areas in Belgium (comprising the main shopping streets Lange Steenstraat, Steenpoort, Sint-Jansttraat, Wijngaardstraat and several squares).
- Shopping centres:
- Kortrijk has several indoor shopping centres such as the Ring Shopping Kortrijk Noord, Bouwcentrum Pottelberg and the new shopping centre K in Kortrijk (opened March 2010). The later is a downtown shopping centre, which links the main shopping street Lange Steenstraat with the Veemarket square and includes as many as 90 shops as electronics store Saturn, H&M, Zara and many other clothes, food and houseware stores.
- Groeningepark: on the historical site of the Groeningekouter where the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs took place. Here one can find the Groeningegate and the Groeninge Monument
- King Albertpark with the Leiemonument (which commemorates the Battle of the Lys)
- Gebroeders van Raemdonckpark
- Queen Astridpark in the Overleie quarter
- 't Plein (the esplanade): a 19th-century park, laid out on a former military zone (the citadel)
- Park de Blauwe Poort
- International Rosegarden
- Stadsgroen Messeyne
- Kasteelpark Blommeghem
- Kasteelpark 't Hooghe
- Stadsgroen Venning with a butterfly garden
- In the Belgian first football division Kortrijk is represented by K.V. Kortrijk. However, 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 fourth provincial division.
- 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, Gent–Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders 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 start.
- 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.
- Emmanuel de Bethune, former mayor (1987–1989) and (1995–2000)
- Hendrik Beyaert, architect
- Francis Bonaert, architect
- John II of Brienne, Count of Eu
- Carl Colpaert, director, founder of Cineville Inc.
- Hendrik Conscience, writer
- Laurence Courtois, tennis player
- Edmée Daenen, pop artist
- Stefaan De Clerck, politician and former mayor of Kortrijk, former Minister of Justice
- Nico F. Declercq, physicist and professor
- Gustave Léonard de Jonghe, portrait painter
- Jean-Baptiste De Jonghe, landscape painter
- Carl de Keyzer, photographer
- Pierre de La Rue, Renaissance composer
- Sophie de Schaepdrijver, historian
- Vincent de Vos (1829–1875), painter
- Bruno de Witte (1955–), European law Professor, European thinker
- Ann Demeulemeester, fashion designer
- 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
- Leif Hoste, road bicycle racer
- Isidore of Saint Joseph (1881–1916), Passionist brother, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984
- Gilles Joye, Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
- Greg LeMond, US professional cyclist – retired
- Xavier Malisse, tennis player
- Morris (1923–2001), cartoonist, creator of Lucky Luke
- Hanne Gaby Odiele, top model
- Tom Omey (b. 1975), middle-distance runner
- Jan Palfyn (1650–1730), doctor, surgeon and inventor of the forceps
- Jean-Jacques Pieters, jazz musician
- 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), painter
- Stijn Streuvels (1871–1969), writer
- Jacobus Vaet, Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
- Guido van Gheluwe (b. 1926), founder of the Orde van den Prince
- Vincent Van Quickenborne (b. 1973), current mayor of the city and former minister of enterprise
- Gella Vandecaveye, judoka, former world champion and Olympic silver medalist
- Emmanuel Viérin (1869–1954), painter
- George Washington, inventor
- Stoffel Vandoorne, Formula 1 racing driver
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- Bad Godesberg, Germany, since 1964
- Cebu City, Philippines, since 2005
- Frascati, Italy, since 1967
- Greenville, South Carolina, United States, since 1991
- Saint-Cloud, France, since 1993
- Lahore, Pakistan, since 1993
- Tashkent, Uzbekistan, since the late 1980s
- Maidenhead, United Kingdom, since 1981
- Wuxi, China, since 2007
- Population per municipality as of 1 January 2016 (XLS; 397 KB)
- "Internet site of the town of Izegem". Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "An inventory of locations suitable for wind energy in Flanders region". Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- List of municipalities : http://fr.eurometropolis.eu/qui-sommes-nous/territoire.html
- "EUROMETROPOLIS : Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai , the 1st european cross-bordrer metropolis".
- (French) Populationdata.net, Palmarès des plus grandes villes du monde – page 3]
- Fegley, 124
- Courtrai (Flem. Kortrijk), a walled town of Belgium, on the Lys, 54 miles SW. of Brussels by rail, and 6 from the French frontier. It has a fine eld bridge flanked with towers, a noble townhall (1526), belfry, and a beautiful Gothic church, founded in 1238 by Baldwin, Count of Flanders. Table damask, linen, and lace are the chief manufactures. Population, about 35,000. Here, in 1302, the citizens of Ghent and Bruges won over the French the 'Battle of the Spurs,' so named from the number of gilt spurs gathered from the dead. Chambers's Concise Gazetteer Of The World, by David Patrick. W. & R. Chambers, Limited, 1906.
- From De Standaard 17/07/09 Kortrijk is bombardement na 65 jaar nog niet vergeten
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- "071218 Cubelplan 2007–2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- Fegley, R. (2002). The Golden Spurs of Kortrijk: How the Knights of France Fell to the Foot Soldiers of Flanders in 1302, 2007. McFarland and Company Inc.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kortrijk.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kortrijk.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Courtrai.|
- Official website – Information available in Dutch, French, English and German
- Kortrijk airport
- Kortrijk photo gallery