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(to͞ornā`), Du. Doornik, commune (1991 pop. 67,732), Hainaut prov., SW Belgium, on the Scheldt River. Tournay and Doornijk are alternate spellings for the commune's French and Dutch names. It is a commercial and industrial center. Manufactures include steel, hose, and leather goods.

One of Belgium's oldest cities, Tournai was the fortified capital of a Roman province and in the 5th cent. became a seat of the Merovingian kings of Austrasia. The city was destroyed by the Normans in 881. It belonged to France from 1187 to 1521, when Emperor Charles V captured it and attached it to the Spanish (from 1714, Austrian) Netherlands. Tournai joined in the rebellion of the Spanish Netherlands and was a Calvinist stronghold until its capture (1581) by Alessandro FarneseFarnese, Alessandro
, 1545–92, duke of Parma and Piacenza (1586–92), general and diplomat in the service of Philip II of Spain. He was the son of Duke Ottavio Farnese and Margaret of Parma and thus a nephew of Philip II and of John of Austria, under whom he
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. It was taken several times by the French in the wars of the 17th–18th cent.

Tournai has been a cultural center since the 12th cent. Of note are the Cathedral of Notre Dame (11th–12th cent.), with many art treasures; a 15th-century tower named for Henry VIII of England (who took the city in 1513 and made Cardinal Wolsey bishop of Tournai); the clothworkers hall (17th cent.); and a well-known art museum.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Flemish, Doornik), a city in Belgium, situated on the Scheide (French, Escaut) River, in the province of Hainaut. Population, 32,500 (1973).

Tournai is noted for its rich and varied architecture, much of it dating from the Middle Ages and the baroque period. Included among its landmarks are the remains of the 13th-century city walls, which, beginning in 1860, were largely replaced by a ring of boulevards, and the Belfry (1187–1294). The city’s most prominent church, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, begun in the 12th century and completed in the 18th century, is a fine example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The cathedral is connected to the bishopric, built between the 12th and 17th centuries, by an arcade containing the chapel of St. Vincent (1198). Other Romanesque and Gothic churches from the 13th and 14th centuries are those of St. Quentin, St. Brice, and St. Piat.

Two of the oldest Romanesque houses in Europe, dating from circa 1175–80, are found in Tournai. At the entrance to the old city, spanning the Scheide River, stands the Pont des Trous, a fortified bridge, erected between the 13th and 14th centuries. Interspersed throughout the city are various baroque and classical buildings from the 17th to the 19th century, including St. Martin’s Abbey, which is now the town hall.

Among Tournai’s cultural institutions are the Musée des Beaux Arts, containing examples of Dutch, Flemish, Belgian, and French painting, and the Musée d’Histoire et d’Archéologie, housing historical and archaeological items from antiquity (Belgic and Roman) and the medieval and Renaissance periods. There is also a museum of folklore.


Rolland, P. Tournai: “noble cité.” Brussels [1944],
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in W Belgium, in Hainaut province on the River Scheldt: under several different European rulers until 1814. Pop.: 67 341 (2004 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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