Aalst

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Aalst

(älst), Fr. Alost, city (1991 pop. 76,382), East Flanders prov., W central Belgium. Aalst is a commercial and industrial center. Manufactures include textiles, clothing, and footwear. Known since the 9th cent., Aalst was held by France from 1667 to 1706 and was the capital of the county of FlandersFlanders
, former county in the Low Countries, extending along the North Sea and W of the Scheldt (Escaut) River. It is divided among East Flanders and West Flanders provs., Belgium; Nord and Pas-de-Calais depts., France; and (to a small extent) Zeeland prov., the Netherlands.
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 under the Austrians in the 18th cent. Of note are the city hall (13th cent.) and the Church of St. Martin (15th cent.), which contains a painting by Peter Paul RubensRubens, Peter Paul,
1577–1640, foremost Flemish painter of the 17th cent., b. Siegen, Westphalia, where his family had gone into exile because of his father's Calvinist beliefs.
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