Monday, August 22, 2011

Tournai, Waloon, Belgium - June 23, 2010

Tournai is a city in the Walloon (read French speaking, unkempt and not bicycle friendly) region of Belgium. It lies on the river Scheldt about 50 miles southwest of Brussels in the provice of Hainault. Known as Tornacum in Roman times, Tounai was of minor importance - a stopping place where the Roman road from Cologne to Boulogne crossed the river Scheldt.
Considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in Belgium with its mixed Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral, Tournai has been designated a World Heritage Site. Other sites of interest in town include the 13th-century Scheldt bridge (Pont-des-Trous) and the main square, Grand Place.
Our Lady of Flanders' Cathedral of Tournai is indeed one of the most important architectural monuments in Belgium. Begun in the 12th century on even older foundations, the building showcases work of three design periods, the heavy and severe Romanesque nave, the Transitional work of the transept and the fully developed Gothic style of the choir. The transept however, is perhaps the most distinctive feature with its cluster of five bell towers and apsidal ends.
After more than 700 years the Cathedral was damaged by a severe tornado in 1999 revealing underlying structural problems prompting ongoing repairs and investigation ever since.
As for Belgium, the country, it holds little promise for us. It is astoundingly dysfunctional, driven in part by language and ethnic barriers - the French speaking minority in the economically backward south known as Wallonia versus the Dutch speaking majority in the north who enjoy a thriving economy in the area called Flanders. So petty and infantile is this nation of mental midgets that they have been without a government for more than 16 months because they can't agree on which language to use. The previous government collapsed in April 2010, elections were held in June of 2010 and since then, inter-faction squabbling has failed to come up with a workable coalition. And this is the country from which the European Union is run. What a Joke!
However, even in inhospitable Tournai, there are some sights to see. Click here for more.

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