Kortrijk is located in the south part of the West Flanders province. The city grew out of a Roman town (Cortoriacum), at the junction of two ancient Roman roads and the Leie river (1st century AD). Thanks to the thriving cloth industry and the growth of flax in the middle ages it became one of the richest cities in Flanders. In the 18th and 19th centuries it remained an important Center for the flax industry, and today it’s still an important town in the textile industry. For more extensive information on the history.
Historically, the town is best known for the Golden Spurs Battle which took place on 11 July 1302. it was so important that it became the Flemish holiday.
* The Broel Towers
These towers are the most important icon of the city. They are remains of the medieval city walls. The two towers connect over the Leie river, by Broel bridge. In the middle of the bridge stands the sculpture of John Nepomucemus, the patron of the drowning and drowned. Broel bridge was built in 1385, destroyed and rebuilt several times. The southern tower Speytorre was built-in 1385 to control the traffic on the Leie river. The Northern Tower, the Inghelburghtorre was built-in 1415. It served as an armory and for the use of artillery. The towers can only be toured with a guide. Broel Towers website.
* The main market square with belfry and Town Hall
The belfry was part of a medieval cloth Hall (the oldest mention of it dates from 1248). On the spire is a figurine of the god Mercury (Roman god of Commerce) from 1712. Look at the front and see ‘Manten’ and ‘Kalle’, the 2 figures who signal and announce the hours. The South Eastern side is a monument for the first world war.
The Town Hall, in late-Gothic renaissance style is next to the Grote Markt. The images on the façade are the ‘Counts of Flanders’. Inside the town hall you will find a beautiful Alderman Hall and Council room with carved fireplaces from the 16th century. In the Gothic Hall, on the first floor, you will find a modern wall painting of the battle of the Golden Spurs. Stained glass windows and peculiar topographical maps are on exhibit. Belfry and Town Hall website.
Other beautiful sites
* The Beguinage
The Saint-Elisabeth Beguinage from 1238 (UNESCO World Heritage) was surrounded by the Castle, the city walls and St Martin’s Churchyard. The current form of the Kortrijk Beguinage dates from the 17th century. You’ll find about 40 Baroque cottages, each with a closed in garden. They have interactive displays, involving the visitor in what life was like in the Beguinage. The Beguinage might look idyllic, but it was inhabited by strong, free-spirited women. True feminists that lived frank and free. This earned them the label ‘ pernicious women ‘ by many a theologian.
* The Baggaertshof
The Baggaert sisters founded the Baggaertshof in 1638. They left 12 small houses, caretaker’s lodge and chapel. It was intended for widows and single women. The founders, and later their heirs decided who could live in them. The residents had rules and ordinances, and had to return home early to ring the evening bell.There is a medicinal herb garden with 200 types of herbs. Baggaertshof website.
*Church Of Our Lady
The construction of the church started in 1199. Five hundred spurs of fallen French soldiers were hung up in the church after the battle of the Golden Spurs. Counterfeit spurs replaced those, and still hang in the Church. Church website.
* Buda Island
Buda Island lies between the arms of the river Leie, offering plenty for artistically-minded visitors to the city. This entertainment-rich district of Kortrijk includes such distractions as:
Buda Tower; a platform for artists of all temperaments, to do what they do best.
Budascoop cinema; offers the chance to enjoy the best non-commercial films.
BUBOX; a space for contemporary visual arts which resolutely opts for artists who wish to interact with the space and its surroundings in a unique and artistic way. Each year, a challenging program is introduced with a handful of projects.
Buda Beach; invites young and old to relax in the beautiful setting of the river Leie. In the summer, this place turns into a beach with a sunbathing area.
The Buda Factory; an impressive venue where designers, entrepreneurs, artists, students and active citizens work side-by-side. The architectural firm of the Flemish Government and Architect Peter Swinnen took charge of the old building. A pentagonal section was added along the street side to make the building’s facade more visible. The building’s 3,000 m² provides space for exhibitions, workshops and studios. There is a prototype lab with 3D printers, laser cutters and lots of other machines for creative people. Buda Island Website.
* The Old Cellars
The medieval cellars were discovered during the construction of a store. The typical Romanesque arches are resting on solid pillars. Dating back to the 12th century they are the first stone cellars in the city. The existence of the cellars points out the wealth of the inhabitants at the time. The cellars can be visited with a guide. Cellars Website.
* Kortrijk 1302
The museum takes you back to 11 July 1302, during the battle of the Golden Spurs. The museum explains the causes and consequences of this “battle of Kortrijk” and the roles of the parties involved. Seven hundred years of conceptualization is discussed. You will discover the evolution of 11 July as a symbolic date for Flanders.
As you can see by the picture on the right. They have special exhibits throughout the year.
* Texture Museum
TEXTURE tells the story of the linen and flax industry. It is a story with very strong roots that testifies of great entrepreneurship, of ingenuity and innovation. The museum consists of 3 rooms. Discover, taste, feel and test the products of designers, scientists and entrepreneurs in the Miracle Room. Flax pops up in the most unexpected places and products. The ‘Leie room’ brings the history and the story of the flax industry. A fascinating history full of thinkers, darers and doers in the lead role. The ‘Treasury room’ lets you enjoy beautiful damask, lace, crafts and fine tissue.
* K in Kortrijk
K in Kortrijk is a prestigious (366000 sq. ft – 34000 m²) shopping center, next to the main shopping streets of the city. You’ll find all kinds of shops, from large chains to unique boutiques. Every first Sunday the shops are open.
*City Garden Messeyne
This City Garden from 1850 you discover via an underpass for hotel Messeyne or via the Guido Gezellepath. The whimsical pond with a decorative cast iron bridge, is the showpiece of the garden. It is a romantic garden, with paths, rolling lawns and many different species of trees. There is a neo-Gothic gazebo.
Team Building Activities
* City Games
The Spy: an espionage game that takes place during WWI. You are Evarist, or the secret police that are trying to catch him. Min. 3 players and max. 10 players per game. A download is 1.79 €, and can be played for an unlimited number of times. If you don’t have smart phones or tablets, you can go through :
La Mosca: A game program you can install on your smart phone or tablet. Just book your game and on the day you have it scheduled, a companion will meet you with all the necessary equipment and explanations. The city, forest and park become your playing field. The gps game lasts for 2 hours. La Mosca
For Born Winners: The most interactive way to visit the city. Find the answers on the streets of Kortrijk. It has DIY jobs like fishing, hopscotch and gin tasting. You divide into smaller groups to compete against each other. The guide tells funny stories and links them to a question. The walk takes 2 to 3 hours. The winners celebrate and console the losers. The game wraps up in a cafe.
Try an escape room. An escape room game is a physical adventure escape game. Locked in a room with other participants, you use elements from the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape within a set time limit.
* The Lost Poem (Het Verloren Gedicht)
The main focus of our blog is traveling off the beaten path, with that in mind, we include this unique place to stay. This special B&B is in a Gothic style chapel.
The “Kalle pie”, named after a folkloric personage from Kortrijk, has apple an apricot as main ingredients, with some calvados and almond flakes. You can buy it at bakery Hoornaert (Leiestraat 46) and patisserie Courcelles (Doorniksestraat 8).