Tournai (in Dutch Doornik, in Latin: Tornacum) is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut.Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium, established by the Romans on the road from Cologne to France.The Franks of Merovingian dynasty chose Tournai as the seat of their kingdom for a time in the 5th century: Chlodewetch (who aquired the more familiar nickname Clovis from storytellers centuries after he died), was born there. Our Lady's Cathedral of Tournai is one of the most spectacular churches in Belgium. Another famous native of Tournai is Flemish master painter Roger de la Pasture, better known as Rogier van der Weyden.
Rocks from the Tournai area date from the Carboniferous Period and have been used to define the Tournaisian Age, a subdivision of the Carboniferous lasting from 359 to 345 million years ago. Tournai stone is a dark limestone which takes a polish and was used particularly in the Romanesque period for sculpted items such as baptismal fonts. It is also hard enough to have been used locally for pavements and kerb-stones. It is sometimes called Tournai marble, though this is geologically inaccurate.
Tournai is considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in Belgium. The mixed Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral of Notre Dame de Tournai and the belfry, the oldest in Belgium, have been jointly designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Inside the cathedral, the Châsse de Notre-Dame flamande, a beautifully ornate 12th-century reliquary, gives witness to Tournai's wealth in the Middle Ages. Other places of interest are the 13th-century Scheldt bridge (Pont-des-Trous) and the main square (Grand'Place), as well as several old city gates, historic warehouses, and a variety of museums.
Last update on 7 May 2010
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