Things to Do in Kortrijk, Belgium
The Belgian city of Kortrijk is located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The city with its historic city center has lost many old buildings during wars and other violence. Fortunately, a number of them have also been professionally restored or partly refurbished. The Belfry, the Broeltorens and the Beguinage are particularly popular places. The city that has grown thanks to the cloth and flax industry has not lost its popularity because of this. The center has another advantage. Kortrijk is the first Belgian city with a car-free shopping street. Shopping on this Korte Steenstraat is therefore very pleasant and certainly popular. While shopping you can enjoy a snack and/or drink at several places in the center. As a student city, it cannot be otherwise than that there are plenty of cozy catering establishments to be found. The students of the Catholic University of Leuven (KULAK) can often be found in the entertainment area, especially during the free hours.
Kortrijk ‘s Top 10 Things to Do
#1. Grote Markt
According to INTERSHIPPINGRATES, Kortrijk’s Grote Markt only came into existence around 1899. Before that, the city center consisted of several small squares such as the pot market, the clothes market, the egg market, the fruit market and the vegetable market. Attractions such as the Belfry, the city palace ‘Den Roeland’ and the city hall can be discovered on and around this central square. Of course, cozy catering establishments are not lacking here either. The terraces are often well filled, especially when fun events have been organised. Every year, the Grote Markt in Kortrijk is the setting for festivals such as Sinksenfeesten, Paasfoor and the Summer Carnival.
The Beguinage of Kortrijk, founded in 1238, is a beautiful piece of history from the Middle Ages. There are still dozens of small houses from the seventeenth century to admire. At that time, the bleak life of the beguines no longer consisted of hard work, caring for others and living in the service of the faith. The statue in the beguinage depicts the last resident, the partially blind Marcella Pattyn. She was the last person to live her veiled life as it had been done in the Beguinage for over eight hundred years. A museum has been set up in the Sint-Annazaal of the Beguinage that gives you more insight into life in this protected residential area at the time.
As part of the old city fortifications, the Broeltorens had the function of regulating traffic on the river Leie from here and as a defense structure. The oldest of the towers, the ‘Speytorre’ was built as early as 1385, the other the ‘Ingelbhurghtorre’ only in 1415. Duke John the Fearless had the latter tower built and named it after the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Today this tower is used as an exhibition space. The towers are regularly damaged and partly destroyed, but each time they have been restored. And fortunately, because all that remains of the medieval city fortresses are these Broeltorens and the artillery tower a little further away.
#4. Museum Kortrijk 1302
In the Begijnhof Park it is possible to visit this museum and experience a step back in time. You will be taken along in a completely contemporary way and you will experience no fewer than seven centuries in one day. In particular, the Battle of the Golden Spurs that took place on the Groeninghe battlefield is discussed in detail.
Museum Located on Buda Island, this museum is housed in an eighteenth century mansion. This municipal museum has been slowly expanded in the adjacent stables, the Budatoren and the Buda factory. In addition to historical works of art, furniture and other objects, you will also find contemporary art. The variety makes for a fascinating museum that is interesting enough for young and old.
#6. Buda Island
As part of the old historic part of Kortrijk, the island of Buda has a special location. The river Leie surrounds the island. The name Buda was taken after a victory in Hungary in the city of Buda. When the Broeltorens were built and the island was protected with this, it was decided to give this island the name Buda. Today, the island is mainly visited for the Broel Museum and the high level of recreation. Meanwhile, the island is also known as a center for the arts. There is a lot to do and experience. There is a cinema, a theater and several buildings and factories that today serve as a cultural center.
The medieval clock tower of Kortrijk stands in a prominent place on the Grote Markt. As a symbol of the city, it is perhaps the most visited and photographed building in Kortrijk. From the high tower one could detect all kinds of dangers that could possibly affect the city. Later the space was used as a treasury, prison and municipal archive. The adjacent Cloth Halls were demolished sometime at the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, the Belfry has been completely free. The bells in the tower, which once warned residents of danger or other big news, now provide beautiful carillon concerts.
#8. Rose garden
Kortrijk’s beautiful rose garden has now acquired international status. The garden full of flowers is part of the castle ‘t Hooghe and the adjacent park. The ‘rosarium’ is approximately one hectare in size and has an average of 150 new specimens each year. A real jury of experts will come to judge in June, paying attention to the color, the smell and whether it is resistant to many diseases. The Kortrijk rose garden is free to visit.
#9. Artillery tower
This strikingly colored building is a legacy of the Middle Ages. During the fourteenth century it belonged to the outer bailey of Kortrijk, where it stood between the city canals and the castle moat. The artillery tower was used to store cannons, ammunition and gunpowder. Together with the Broeltorens, these are the last surviving remnants of the city walls, which were largely destroyed when the French army came to take over in 1684.
#10. Koning Albertpark
The former Leiepark was laid out around the beginning of the twentieth century. The open countryside is ideal for long walks and various sports activities. You will find a special area for skaters that is said to be one of the best skate parks in the Benelux. There is also a special memorial monument. The Leie Monument was erected to commemorate the soldiers who fell during their fight against the Germans at the start of the Second World War. The statue is of Prince Leopold III, the son of King Albert after whom this park is named.