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Kortryk / Kortrik  (West Flemish)

Courtrai  (French)
Broeltorens, Kortrijk (DSCF9278).jpg
Broel Towers along the river Lys in Kortrijk
Belgium location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Belgium
Location of Kortrijk in West Flanders
Coordinates: 50°50′N03°16′E / 50.833°N 3.267°E / 50.833; 3.267 Coordinates: 50°50′N03°16′E / 50.833°N 3.267°E / 50.833; 3.267
Country Belgium
Community Flemish Community
Region Flemish Region
Province West Flanders
Arrondissement Kortrijk
  Mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD)
  Governing party/ies Open VLD, N-VA, sp.a
  Total80.02 km2 (30.90 sq mi)
 (2018-01-01) [1]
  Density950/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Postal codes
85xx (8500, 8501, 8510, 8511)
Area codes 056
Website www.kortrijk.be

Kortrijk ( /ˈkɔːrtrk/ KORT-ryke, Dutch:  [ˈkɔrtrɛik] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); West Flemish : Kortryk or Kortrik; French : Courtrai [kuʁtʁɛ] ; Latin : Cortoriacum), also known in English as Courtrai or Courtray [2] [3] ( /kʊərˈtr/ koor-TRAY), is a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders.


It is the capital and largest city of the judicial and administrative arrondissement of Kortrijk. The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the villages of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem. Kortrijk is also part of the cross-border Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai metropolitan area. [4] [5]

The city is on the river Leie, 42 km (26 mi) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Lille. Mouscron in Wallonia is just south of Kortrijk. [6]

Beguinage of Kortrijk Kortrijk - Beguinage and Sint-Maartenskerk.jpg
Beguinage of Kortrijk

Kortrijk originated from a Gallo-Roman town, Cortoriacum, [7] at a crossroads near the Leie river and two Roman roads. In the Middle Ages, Kortrijk grew significantly thanks to the flax and wool industry with France and England and became one of the biggest and richest cities in Flanders. The city is often referred to as City of Groeninge or City of the Golden Spurs, referring to the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs which took place on 11 July 1302 on the Fields of Groeninge in Kortrijk. In 1820 the Treaty of Kortrijk was signed, laying out the still-current borders between France and Belgium. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, the flax industry flourished and remains important within the Belgian textile industry today.

Kortrijk is the largest city in southern West Flanders, with several hospitals, colleges and a university. Kortrijk was the first city in Belgium with a pedestrian shopping street, the Korte Steenstraat.



The Roman name Cortoriacum [7] meant in Latin, the settlement near the curb in the river.[ citation needed ] There is also mention of 'Cortoracum' in some literature. Its name later evolved to 'Cortrycke', 'Cortryck' and 'Kortrijk' (19th Century). The French call it Courtrai.

Origins Roman times

Findings from an archeological dig in 1950 in which remains of three Roman funeral pyres were found [8] suggest that the vicus was used as an encampment by the Romans during their invasion of Britain in 43 CE.

Cortoriacum was a larger Gallo-Roman vicus of civitas Menapiorum at an important crossroads near the Lys river of the Roman roads linking Tongeren and Cassel and Tournai and Oudenburg. It was first mentioned in a document from the 4th or 5th century called Notitia Dignitatum where the Cortoriacenses (Cavalry)Troops were mentioned. In the 9th century, Baldwin II, Count of Flanders established fortifications against the Vikings. The town gained its city charter in 1190 from Philip, Count of Flanders. The population growth required new defensive walls, part of which can still be seen today (the Broeltorens, Armory, Kortrijk). Several local places still refer to physical parts of the defensive structures around Kortrijk (Walle, Waterpoort, Menenpoort, Gentsepoort, Brugsepoort, Kasteelkaai); Most of the physical parts have been overbuilt or destroyed.

The second castle of Kortrijk Bourgondisch kasteel.jpg
The second castle of Kortrijk

In the 13th century, the battles between Fernando of Portugal, Count of Flanders and his first cousin, King Louis VIII of France, led to the destruction of the city. The Counts of Flanders had it rebuilt soon after. To promote industry and weaving in the town, Joan, Countess of Flanders exempted settlers in Kortrijk from property tax. [9] From that time, Kortrijk gained great importance as a center of linen production.

Battle of the Golden Spurs

In 1302, the population of Bruges started a successful uprising against the French, who had annexed Flanders a couple of years earlier. On 18 May the French population in that city was massacred, an event that could not go unpunished. The famous ensuing Battle of Courtrai in 1302, also known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs (Dutch: Guldensporenslag), between the Flemish people, mostly commoners and farmers, and Philip the Fair’s knights took place near Kortrijk on 11 July, resulting in a victory for Flanders; [10] the date is now commemorated as a national holiday by the whole Flemish community.

Following a new uprising by the Flemish in 1323, this time against their own Count Louis I, the French invaded again. These Flemish acquisitions were consolidated by the French at the Battle of Cassel (1328).

Louis I’s son Louis II lost the city to a Flemish uprising led by Philip van Artevelde in 1381, but the Flemish were later decisively defeated at the 1382 Battle of Roosebeke by Louis II with French support, resulting in a new wave of plundering and destruction.

15th century to modern times

Most of the 15th century was prosperous under the Dukes of Burgundy, until the death of the Burgundian heiress, Mary of Burgundy, in 1482, which ushered in renewed fighting with France.

The 16th century was marked by the confrontations engendered by the Reformation and the uprising of the Netherlands against Spain.

Louis XIV’s reign saw Kortrijk occupied by the French five times in sixty years and its former fortifications razed. The Treaty of Utrecht finally assigned the whole area to Austria.

After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, the textile industry, based on flax, and the general economy of the city could finally prosper again.

Kortrijk was heavily bombed in the summer of 1917, but was liberated by the British Army the following year. During World War II the city was an important railway hub for the German army, and for this reason was the target of several allied air-strikes. On 21 July 1944 (the Belgian National Day) around 300 Avro Lancasters dropped over 5,000 bombs on the city center. [11] Many historical buildings on the central square, as well as the old railway station, were destroyed.

Battle of Courtrai

Battles fought there in 1302, 1580, 1793, 1794, 1814, 1815, and 1918 have each been called Battle of Courtrai


The medieval city hall. Town hall of Kortrijk (DSCF9258).jpg
The medieval city hall.


After the 1977 fusion the city is made up of:

Neighboring municipalities

The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, also consists of Kuurne, Wevelgem, Zwevegem and Harelbeke. Although these municipalities have strong morphologic ties with Kortrijk, they aren't officially part of the city.


Kortrijk has an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb).

Climate data for Kortrijk (1981–2010 normals, sunshine 1984–2013)
Average high °C (°F)6.0
Daily mean °C (°F)3.5
Average low °C (°F)0.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)70.2
Average precipitation days12.710.612.39.911.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 597912217720520021420214911965491,639
Source: Royal Meteorological Institute [12]

Main sights

Schouwburgplein Kortrijk.jpg
The Theatre Square (Schouwburgplein) is one of the most scenic places in Kortrijk's old city centre (picture taken during the annual Summer Carnival in August)
Old streets in the Beguinage. Kortrijk begijnhof.JPG
Old streets in the Béguinage.
Interior of the Saint-Anthony church Kortrijk Sint-Antoniuskerk int -10.JPG
Interior of the Saint-Anthony church
Medieval houses at the Begijnhof Kortrijk Begijnhof Grootjuffrow.jpg
Medieval houses at the Begijnhof


Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. The city centre is one of the largest car-free areas in Belgium. The béguinage, as well as the belfry, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999. Interesting highlights are:



  • The Saint-Martin church dates from the 13th century but was mostly rebuilt after a fire in the 15th century. It now houses a 48-bell carillon. Its 83-meter (272 feet) tower remains the highest building in the city.
  • The beguinage is one of the quaintest sites in the city. It too, was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. [14]
  • The church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) is former collegiate church. Here the golden spurs taken from the battlefield in 1302 were hung. It houses a rich interior with an altar piece of van Dyck.
  • the Count’s chapel ( Gravenkapel ), built after the example of la Sainte Chapelle in Paris as shrine for Louis II of Flanders.
  • Saint-Michaelschurch; a church of the Society of Jesus
  • Saint-Johnschurch in the St.-Johnsquarter; a Neo-Gothic basilica
  • Groeninge Abbey
  • Saint Eligiuschurch
  • Saint-Pius X-church
  • Saint-Rochchurch
  • Saint-Elisabethchurch
  • Saint-Anthonychurch or Toontjes kerk with the pilgrimage of Isidore of Saint Joseph
  • Saint-Annechurch
  • Saint-Theresiachurch
  • Father Damienchurch


Museums in Kortrijk include:



Kortrijk lies at the intersection of three highways:


Public city transport

Kortrijk has an extensive web of public transport lines, operated by De Lijn , providing access to the city centre and the suburbs (city lines, Dutch : stadslijnen) and to many towns and villages in the region around the city (regional lines, Dutch : streeklijnen).

At Kortrijk main railway station, there is a bus station where regional buses stop as well.


Kortrijk Airport. StartbaanKortrijkAirport.JPG
Kortrijk Airport.


New Groeningebridge and Albertpark. Kortrijk - Brug over Leie.jpg
New Groeningebridge and Albertpark.

The river Lys (Leie) is an important way of transporting goods through inland navigation. The Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal enables in the city centre a direct connection with the river Scheldt.

Within the City, the river briefly splits in two, to re-join about a mile further.

From the 1970s on, the planning and later the execution of the so-called Leiewerken (Leieworks) started. These construction works comprised the deepening and widening of the river. This would enable ships with 4400 tons to navigate from France to the Scheldt. At the same time, this project included a thorough urban renewal of the riversides in the city. Seven new bridges were to give a new architectural impulse to the river quarters as well as the construction of several new parks along the river.

The following bridges were built during the period of 1997 and 2012:

More recently (2018), the banks in front of the Broel Towers were lowered to allow the public to enjoy the historic river banks along both sides of the River Lys (Leie). This area is now known as the Leieboorden (or Banks of the River Lys), a place for pedestrians with bars and restaurants.

Other Smaller Waterways with Historic and Geological value

Several small streams or Beken in and around Courtrai were of significant topological, historical and Geological value. [16]

  • Lange Mere Mentioned in the Town accounts of 1412-13 as Langhe Meere.
  • Mosscher (High Mossher and Low Mosscher) ending in the Southern Moat (Sanderus Map [17] mentions only the 'Mosscher as a single toponym. It was also mentioned in almost full length on the Deventer Map. [18]
  • Groeninghe (first mentioned as Groeninc in 1412[ citation needed ] ) Its name came from the green color of the flooded meadow where it originated.
  • Grote Vijver (first mention as Hoghen vivere in the town accounts of 1416-17).
  • St-Jan's stream - Human Dug connecting stream
  • Klakkaert stream
  • Moat around the City (south of the Leie or Lys)
  • Neveldries
  • Bloedmeers

Cycling and pedestrian areas

Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. In general, cars are led to large underground car parks in the historic centre of Kortrijk or Park&Ride parking outside the town centre. Large parts of the historic centre are car free.


The city is historically connected with the flax and the textile industry, and still today the textile industry remains important in the region. Major companies which have headquarters in Kortrijk include Cisco, Barco and Bekaert.


Kortrijk serves as an educational centre in south West Flanders, attracting students from the entire region.

There are 55 schools in Kortrijk, on 72 different locations throughout the city, with an estimated 21,000 students. [19]

The city also provides higher education. The KULAK, a campus of the Catholic University of Leuven, is located in on the south edge of the city, in the Hoog Kortrijk quarter. Other institutes of higher education include the Katholieke Hogeschool Zuid-West-Vlaanderen (KATHO) and Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (HOWEST) university colleges. There is also a campus of Ghent University.

European cooperation

Even though Kortrijk is a Dutch-speaking town, it borders Wallonia, and is only 9 km (5.6 mi) away from the border with France. This has created an urban area that extends across linguistic and national borders. The mayors of Lille, Kortrijk and Tournai met in Kortrijk on 28 January 2008 to sign a document creating the first European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation within the EU. The purpose of this organisation is to facilitate the movement of people within this area of nearly 2 million people.


Theatres and concert venues

The City Theatre. Schouwburg.jpg
The City Theatre.

Festivals and events

The city is host to some sizable cultural events such as:

Also, trade shows and events such as the international Design Fair Interieur, Busworld and the Eurodogshow take place in the Kortrijk Xpo event center. These fairs attract numerous visitors to the city.

In July and August there are various boat tours on the river Leie.


Local specialities include Kalletaart (apple cake with Calvados), Peperbollen, biscuits, and chocolate little beguines. The town of Heule is the home of the Picobrouwerij Alvinne brewery, while Bellegem is the home of the Bockor brewery.



The new downtown shopping centre K in Kortrijk. K in Kortrijk binnen 01.jpg
The new downtown shopping centre K in Kortrijk.


The Queen Astrid park. Kortrijk Astridpark-3.JPG
The Queen Astrid park.



Kortrijk has three official football clubs.



In Flanders generally, professional cycling is very popular. Many cycling races start, finish or pass through the Kortrijk area. Amongst them are the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne, Gent–Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen. Kortrijk also hosts an after-tour criterium at the start of August called Kortrijk Koerse. Many of the riders who participated in the Tour de France usually appear at the start.




Notable citizens

Town twinning

Kortrijk participates in town twinning to encourage good international relations. [23]


  1. Statbel ,  Wikidata Q12480
  2. "Internet site of the town of Izegem" . Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  3. "An inventory of locations suitable for wind energy in Flanders region" . Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  4. List of municipalities : http://fr.eurometropolis.eu/qui-sommes-nous/territoire.html Archived 2015-03-21 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "EUROMETROPOLIS : Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, the 1st European cross-bordrer metropolis".
  6. (in French) Populationdata.net Archived 2008-10-09 at the Wayback Machine , Palmarès des plus grandes villes du monde – page 3]
  7. 1 2 "The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, CORTORIACUM (Courtrai) Belgium" . Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  8. http://www.all-archeo.be/rapporten/217_Kortrijk_Morinnestraat/217%20Rapport%20Kortrijk%20-%20Morinnestraat.pdf
  9. Fegley, 124
  10. Courtrai (Flem. Kortrijk), a walled town of Belgium, on the Lys, 54 miles SW. of Brussels by rail, and 6 from the French frontier. It has a fine eld bridge flanked with towers, a noble townhall (1526), belfry, and a beautiful Gothic church, founded in 1238 by Baldwin, Count of Flanders. Table damask, linen, and lace are the chief manufactures. Population, about 35,000. Here, in 1302, the citizens of Ghent and Bruges won over the French the 'Battle of the Spurs,' so named from the number of gilt spurs gathered from the dead. Chambers's Concise Gazetteer Of The World, by David Patrick. W. & R. Chambers, Limited, 1906.
  11. From De Standaard 17/07/09 Kortrijk is bombardement na 65 jaar nog niet vergeten
  12. "Klimaatstatistieken van de Belgische gemeenten" (PDF) (in Dutch). Royal Meteorological Institute . Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  13. UNESCO. "Belfries of Belgium and France" . Retrieved 2008-01-26.
  14. UNESCO. "Flemish Béguinages" . Retrieved 2008-01-26.
  15. AC02717376, Anonymus (1966). Acta Historiae Neerlandica. Brill Archive. p.11
  16. Verbruggen, J. F. (2002). The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Courtrai, 11 July 1302): A Contribution to the History of Flanders' War of Liberation, 1297-1305. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN   978-0-85115-888-4.pp. 135-150
  17. Sanderus, Antonius (1586-1664) Cartographe (1600). "Castellaniae Corturiacensis tabula / Ant. Sanderus". Gallica. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  18. Deventer, 1545, Jacob van (2012-09-20), English: Kortrijk, map by Jacob van Deventer , retrieved 2018-07-06
  19. "Duurzame Mobiliteit – Stimuleer de opmaak van schoolvervoerplannen". Duurzamemobiliteit.be. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  20. "Eurotowns".
  21. "RC Curtrycke".
  22. "Kortrijk betreurt het overlijden van haar ere-burgemeester". Kortrijk civic site. 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  23. "071218 Cubelplan 2007–2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-10.

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