Tournai – a scent of Italy in Belgium

The Grand Square of Tournai with Grand Cathedral and Belfry in the background.

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As most of the time, when L. is away and I’m left alone to visit some places, my search starts and ends with the Google Image search. Maybe, that’s why they say that men love with their eyes, and women love with their brain. I just don’t put much deeper thought in where I go. So, when you do something like that – life gives you a lesson. This time this lesson had a name and place – Tournai.

Believe me, I wish I knew where I was going.

First steps in Tournai

As I walked my first steps, I suddenly got this feeling – Ha, this might looks somehow the way I’d imagine Florence.1 Walking around I noticed beautiful, seemingly, very old apartment buildings. Then I got to the river Scheldt, where in a far I saw a very beautiful bridge.

Finally, I got to the place, which was my initial goal – Tournai Cathedral. This 12th century masterpiece really put me in awe with its beauty, but as it happens often in Belgium – it was under construction. I actually even managed to post a live story to Instagram about that.

Grand Cathedral of Tournai
Unfortunatelly, when I got here Grand Cathedral of Tournai was under construction

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So, I was thinking, shit, there’s nothing else I can see here, then. But then I decided to see few more streets. And thank God I did.

Further steps

So, here I was walking further in this city, with no expectations. Just around the corner I found another incredibly looking building – Belfry de Tournai. I even took my phone and wanted to do another live story, saying huh, turns out there’s more to see here. Lucky for me, my battery died and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself.

Afterwards I got to the Grand Place of Tournai. It was one of the nicest city’s main squares that I’ve seen in a while. Maybe it was a bit too crowded with cars, but it still doesn’t ruin the sight. You can see a beautiful city square surrounded by old houses and above them all rises the towers of Grand Cathedral and Belfry. Astonishing.

What happened afterwards is a went around and saw more beautiful churches, but because of the previous sights I was already spoiled. Little did I know, that these were also buildings, which are more than 800 years old.

Finally, I went for a walk by the river Scheldt towards the Pont des Trous bridge. Unfortunatelly, I had my car ticket for only two hours2 and I couldn’t get to the end of it. Still, I took a couple of shots there and incredibly one of those pictures became the first one to ever get a 1000 likes on Instagram, which is kinda big deal for us.

What I’ve learned about Tournai back home

So this is the part where I’d like to crucify myself for my stupidity and ignorance.

As I got home, I couldn’t let go of this feeling that this wasn’t just an any ordinary city. So, I wikipedied3 it. Turns out that Tournai is the oldest city in Belgium. It was the city that had a significant cultural role in this whole Wallonian region. Here you can find the two oldest private buildings IN WHOLE EUROPE! Not in Rome or Athens, but in Tournai!!! And I didn’t take any pics of those.

Église Saint Brice
Église Saint Brice of Tournai. This was the first building that I saw and lead me to the thought of Florence.

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During the Middle Ages Tournai was incredibly wealthy. It was home to few of the most impactful artists in this region. So, probably, there’s no surprise that it reminded me of Florence.

Final thoughts

To put everything aside, Tournai is an incredible city. Though, there was a lot of construction works, walking around you just get this feeling that you get in these iconic cities like Rome or Paris. You feel that every little detail in the old part of the city has been thought trough by someone with a artistic mind.

Every church is in a perfect distance from each other. When you walk away from those sights, they complement each other perfectly. People back in a day realized that a city is something that you have to respect. That city is home and that’s why every little detail is important. Maybe it’s because back in the day to build something you had to put more work in it, so it seemed more important? I honestly, think that nowadays people forget to respect these places that provide roof for us..  But, I guess, it’s a topic for the next time.

Eglise Saint Jacques
Eglise Saint Jacques

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Have you ever experienced anything like I experienced in Tournai?  If so, please let me know in the comment section! 

  1. which is, by the way, somewhere on the very top on my bucketlist.
  2. at first, I thought that this will be too much
  3. Trying to start a new trend here.
    Wikipedy – wikipedying – wikipedies – wikipedied – …