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Tournai

Tournai has the privilege of being the only city in Belgium which was once English.

Located on the River Escault, 10km from the French border, Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium, established by the Romans on the road from Cologne to France.

The Merovingian Frankish kings chose Tournai as their capital for a period during the fifth century, when King Chlodewetch (better known as Clovis, a nickname coined by story-tellers centuries after his death) was born there.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Tournai is one of the most spectacular churches in Belgium. Another famous native of Tournai was the Walloon old master Roger de la Pasture, better known as Roger van der Weyden. At first sight, Tournai appears to be a quiet provincial town, buried in the depths of the province of Hainaut, on the banks of the River Escault. But this is far from the truth!

In the Middle Ages, the city was a major tapestry-weaving centre. Its architecture influenced most of the other cities along the Escault, due mainly to the trade in the 'blue-grey' limestone used for building, quarried nearby.

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