One of the three main cities of the Belgian Ardennes, Tournai is a place with a very recognizable landmark — the Cathedral, which is certainly the main destination for any visit to Tournai today. The grand Cathedral of Notre Dame, a five-towered Romanesque and early Gothic masterpiece was built during the 12th and 13th centuries.Â Its treasury contains the silver and copper “Shrine of Our Lady,” a masterpiece completed in the early 13th century. The Cathedral of Tournai also boasts a few works by Rubens and his contemporary painter of Flanders, Jordaens. The outstanding Museum of Tapestry and the Museum of Fine Arts are also worth visiting on the trip to Tournai.
Under the Dukes of Burgundy, Tournai was the principal production center for widely coveted tapestries that are now in the collection of kings and museums all over Europe. The Museum of Fine Arts, an airy, art nouveau structure designed by Victor Horta in 1928, houses a superior collection of Flemish and French works from the 15th century to the present. Tournai’s own Roger de la Pasture (Rogier van der Weyden) is well represented here. Before leaving the area, visit the nearby Beloeil Castle, owned by the Princes de Ligne, to view the famous expansive gardens.
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