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Coordinates: 51°19′N 04°57′E / 51.317°N 4.950°E / 51.317; 4.950
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Grote Markt
Grote Markt
Flag of Turnhout
Coat of arms of Turnhout
Location of Turnhout
Turnhout is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Location of Turnhout in the province of Antwerp
Coordinates: 51°19′N 04°57′E / 51.317°N 4.950°E / 51.317; 4.950
Country Belgium
CommunityFlemish Community
RegionFlemish Region
 • MayorPaul Van Miert (N-VA)
 • Governing party/iesN-VA, CD&V, Vooruit, Groen
 • Total56.71 km2 (21.90 sq mi)
 • Total44,136
 • Density780/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Postal codes
NIS code
Area codes014

Turnhout (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈtʏr(ə)nɦʌut]) is a Belgian municipality and city located in the Flemish province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises only the city of Turnhout proper. In 2021, its population was 45,874.[2] The total area is 56.06 km2 (21.64 sq mi).[3] The agglomeration is much more populous, with 81,473 inhabitants.[4] It is known for its playing card industry, and houses the head office of the world's largest manufacturer of playing cards, Cartamundi. Turnhout is also the capital of the administrative district with the same name. The city council often promotes the city as "the capital of the Kempen area". This designation is entirely unofficial, since the Kempen area is far larger than the Turnhout district and does not form an administrative unit.

Turnhout serves as the economic and cultural center for other communities in the immediate vicinity with more than 40 schools. There is also an important services sector with two hospitals, a two-stage theatre, an eight-screen cinema and one of the largest cultural centres of Belgium.

Turnhout is located at about 51.3 North and 4.9 East, 42 km (26 mi) from the centre of Antwerp, 30 km (19 mi) from Breda and Tilburg, 40 km (25 mi) from Eindhoven. The football club of the city is K.V. Turnhout.


Turnhout originated on the crossroads of two major trade routes and in the protection of the hunting castle of the Dukes of Brabant that seems to have existed since 1110 or earlier. This hunting past is still reflected in the city's coat of arms. The small community that developed obtained its Libertas as a "free city" from Henry I, Duke of Brabant in about 1212. In 1338, the privilege of organizing a market on Saturday was granted, a tradition that still holds today. In 1466, a traveler described the well-built houses and paved roads, and counted five churches.

Castle of the Dukes of Brabant in Turnhout

By the 16th century, Turnhout had become a wealthy commercial center. Unfortunately, the end of the century brought war, fire, confiscations and epidemics. Suppression and inquisition made many progressive citizens to take refuge in the Dutch Republic, leaving the land of Turnhout impoverished. The further history of Turnhout consists of a series of ups and downs. Many times, the city and surroundings were the playground of armies, resulting in two major battles named after Turnhout: one in 1597 and one in 1789 are referred to as Battle of Turnhout.

In 1830, Belgium became independent, and Turnhout fell just south of the new border with the Netherlands. The period of peace between 1831 and 1914 saw the digging of the canal (1846) and the construction of the railroad (1855).

In the late Middle Ages, Turnhout was a well-known center for the weaving of bedding articles and of the linen trade. At the start of the 19th century, these trades were replaced by industries based on the use of paper. Pieter Corbeels and Philippus Jacobus Brepols are considered to be the founders of this industry. Turnhout retains much of this industry today. Numerous graphics companies are located in the region, such as Brepols, Group Joos, Proost International Book Production, Van Genechten Packaging, and last but not least Cartamundi, the world market leader of the playing card industry. In addition, the Belgian Centre for the Graphics Industry, and the Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communication (Campus Blairon) are located in Turnhout. Soudal, whose headquarters is located in Turnhout, is one of the leading companies in sealants.

Postal history[edit]

The Turnhout post office opened before 1830. It used postal code 122 with bars (before 1864), and 367 with points before 1874.[5]

Postal code since 1969: 2300.[6]


Architectural sights worth visiting are the 12th century castle of the Dukes of Brabant, the Gothic church of St. Peter, the beguinage (begijnhof) dating from the 13th century, the 14th century Gothic chapel of Theobald and the Taxandria museum housed in a prestigious Renaissance mansion. Of particular interest is the Museum of the Playing Card. This is located in an old factory building downtown and houses a beautifully restored steam engine.

The beguinage was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998.

The largest building in Turnhout is the Turnova tower, built in 2019. It is considered the first skyscraper in the city.



Notable residents[edit]

Filip Daems
Loena Hendrickx
Paul Janssen

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Turnhout is twinned with:[10]


  1. ^ Statbel, Wikidata Q12480
  2. ^ "Bevolking per statistische sector - Sector 13040". Statistics Belgium. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  3. ^ "Belgium: Major Cities and Municipalities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  4. ^ "Agglomerations (Belgium): Urban Agglomerations - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  5. ^ Catalogue Spécialisé des Oblitérations Belges, 1849-1910, Nationale en Internationale Postzegelmanifestaties Antwerpen (NIPA), Antwerp, 1999.
  6. ^ Liste des Numéros Postaux, Administration des Postes, Bruxelles 1969.
  7. ^ "Marcel Hendrickx, l'ancien bourgmestre de Turnhout est décédé à l'âge de 85 ans". RTBF (in French). 27 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Cornelis Simonsz. Oomius". University of Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Maijcken van Bracht". University of Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Zustersteden" (in Dutch). Turnhout. Retrieved 12 January 2023.

External links[edit]