Kortrijk (Dutch)
Courtray (English)
Broel towers in Kortrijk


Coat of arms
Kortrijk is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Coordinates: 50°50′N 03°16′E / 50.833°N 3.267°E / 50.833; 3.267
Country Belgium
Region Flemish Region
Community Flemish Community
Province West Flanders
Arrondissement Kortrijk
 – Mayor Lieven Lybeer (CD&V)
 – Governing party/ies CD&V, Open VLD
 – Total 80.02 km2 (30.9 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2010)[1]
 – Total 74,911
 – Density 936.2/km2 (2,424.6/sq mi)
 – Foreigners 3.73% (7 January 2005)
Postal codes 85xx (8500, 8501, 8510, 8511)
Area codes 056
Website www.kortrijk.be

Kortrijk (English also Courtray;[2][3] official name in Dutch: Kortrijk, pronounced [ˈkɔrtrɛi̯k]); French: Courtrai, pronounced: [kuʁtʁɛ]; Latin: Cortoriacum) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province West Flanders. It is the capital and biggest city of the arrondissement of Kortrijk, which is both a judicial and an administrative arrondissement. The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the towns of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem.

The city is situated on the Leie, 42 km (26 mi) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Lille in France. Both Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban area with around 1,900,000 inhabitants.[4] As the biggest city of southern West Flanders, Kortrijk has many schools, hospitals and shopping streets.

Kortrijk Beguinage

Kortrijk originated from a Gallo-Roman town at an important crossroads near the Leie river and two Roman roads. During 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 Gulden Spurs, referring to the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs which took place on 11 juli 1302 on the Fields of Groeninge in Kortrijk. In 1820, the Treaty of Kortrijk was signed, which laid out the current borders between France and Belgium. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, Kortrijk became an important centre of the flaxindustry and is today still an important region within the Belgian textile industry.

Today, Kortrijk is the most important city in southern West-Flanders with several hospitals, colleges and a University. Where Kortrijk was the very first city in Belgium with a pedestrian shopping street (the Korte Steenstraat), nowadays, a big part of the historical city centre is a complete pedestrian area with lots of shops and shopping malls (like the new covered K Shopping Centre and the Ring Shopping Kortrijk Noord centre).



Origins to the 13th century

Cortoriacum was a typical Gallo-Roman vicus at an important crossroads near the Leie river. It was situated on the crossroads of the Roman roads linking Tongeren and Cassel and Tournai and Oudenburg. 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).

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[5]. From that time, Kortrijk gained great importance as a centre of linen production.

the second castle of Kortrijk

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 May 18, the French population in that city was massacred, an event that could not go unpunished. The famous ensuing Battle of Courtrai or 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 July 11, resulting in a victory for Flanders. This date is now remembered as a national holiday by the whole Flemish community.

Following a new uprising by the Flemish in 1323, but 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, then Philip van Artevelde briefly regained the city in 1381 but lost it again the following year at the Battle of Roosebeke, 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 to the ground. 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 even more damaged by the allied bombing in 1944. The city was an important railway hub for the German army, and for this reason was the target of several allied air-strikes. On July 21, 1944 (the Belgian National Day) around 300 Avro Lancasters dropped over 5,000 bombs on the city center.[6] Many historical buildings on the central square, as well as the old train station, were destroyed.



After the 1977 fusion the city is made up of:

  • I Kortrijk
  • II Heule
  • III Bissegem
  • IV Marke
  • V Aalbeke
  • VI Rollegem
  • VII Bellegem
  • VIII Kooigem

Neighbouring municipalities

The medieval city hall.

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.

  • a. Kuurne (municipality Kuurne)
  • b. Harelbeke (municipality Harelbeke)
  • c. Zwevegem (municipality Zwevegem)
  • d. Sint-Denijs (municipality Zwevegem)
  • e. Spiere (municipality Spiere-Helkijn)
  • f. Dottenijs (city of Moeskroen)
  • g. Luingne (city of Moeskroen)
  • h. Moeskroen (city of Moeskroen)
  • i. Rekkem (city of Menen)
  • j. Lauwe (city of Menen)
  • k. Wevelgem (municipality Wevelgem)
  • l. Gullegem (municipality Wevelgem)
  • m. Sint-Eloois-Winkel (municipality Ledegem)
  • n. Lendelede, with Sint-Katharina (municipality Lendelede)



Main sights

Old streets in the Béguinage.
Old houses in the historical citycentre
the Counts of Flanders in the Count’s chapel.
Interior of the Saint-Anthony church
Saint Martin tower
Medieval houses downtown


Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. The city center is one of the largest carfree 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:


  • Medieval City Hall (on the main square, the Grote Markt). The façade of the late-Gothic, early Renaissance city hall is adorned with the statues of the Counts of Flanders.
  • The belfry is surmounted by a statue of Mercury, god of the merchants. The belfry is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.[7]
  • Near-identical medieval Broel Towers with the bridge in between that spans the river Lys. (the Speyetower and the Ingelburgtower)
  • Artillerytower (Artillerietoren)
  • Mont de Piété (Berg van Barmhartigheid or house of Mercy)
  • Weigh house (Stadswaag) on the St.Michael-square
  • Our Lady Hospital (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwehospitaal), founded in 1200–1204.
  • Baggaertshof, often called Kortrijk's second Beguinage, contains a Botanical garden
  • Groeningekouter contains the Groeningegate and the Groeninge Monument, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs


  • 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.[8]
  • The church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) was where the golden spurs taken from the battlefield in 1302 were hung. It houses a famous van Dyck painting.
  • 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 neogotic basilica
  • Groeninge Abbey
  • Saint Eligiuschurch
  • Saint-Pius X-church
  • Saint-Rochchurch
  • Saint-Elisabethchurch
  • Saint-Anthonychurch or Toontjes kerk with the pelgrimage of Isidore of Saint Joseph
  • Saint-Annechurch
  • Saint-Theresiachurch
  • Father Damienchurch


Museums in Kortrijk include:

  • Kortrijk 1302: seven centuries in one day, a historic museum about the famous Battle of the Golden Spurs, which gave Flanders its official holiday (July 11)
  • Broelmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts and archaeological museum), with paintings by Roelant Savery and international Ceramic.
  • National Flax Museum in honour of the plant that once was the main driver of Kortrijk’s economy. This museum will be relocated.
  • Groeninge Abbey with the Groeningemuseum. This museum gives you an overview of Kortrijk's history.
  • Beguinage museum located in the old town, in the béguinage.
  • Flemish Film museum and archive
  • Bakery- and Millmuseum, located in an old windmill.
  • Museum of Agriculture
  • International Rose gardens, located in the park of the Castle t Hooghe, in the Hoog-Kortrijk quarter just in front of Kortrijk Xpo.



Kortrijk lies at the intersection of three highways:

  • In addition Kortrijk also has two ringways:
    • The R8: connects the outskirts of Kortrijk with each other and the surrounding villages, and also leads to the A19, E403 and E17 roads.
    • The R36: connects the different downtown quarters with each other, and provides access to the main avenues.


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).

  • City buses:
    • Line 1: Station – Kortrijk Xpo – Kinepolis – Leiedal
    • Line 2: Station – Lange Munte
    • Line 3: Station – Heule Bozestraat
    • Line 4: Station – Bissegem Station – Heule Kransvijver
    • Line 5-0: Station – Kuurne Seizoenswijk
    • Line 5-1: Station – Kuurne Sint-Pieter
    • Line 6: Station – Shopping Center (- Industriezone) – Heule Markt
    • Line 8: Station – Pottelberg – Walle
    • Line 9: Station – Cederlaan
    • Line 12: Station – Kinepolis – Bellegem – Rollegem (- Aalbeke)
    • Line 13: Station – Hoog Kortrijk
    • Line 80/81: Station – Marke
    • Line 91/92/93: Station – Zwevegem
  • Regional buses
At Kortrijk main railway station, there is a bus station where regional buses stop as well.



New Groeningebridge and Albertpark.
river Leie.

The river 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.

From the 1970s on, the planning and later the execution of the so called Leiewerken (Leieworks) started. These construction works comprise the deepening and widening of the river. This should enable ships with 4400 tons to navigate from France to the Scheldt. At the same time, this project includes a thorough urban renewal of the riversides in the city. Seven new bridges have to give a new architectural impulse to the river quarters as well as the construction of several new parks along the river. Four bridges already opened (Dambrug, Groeningebrug, Ronde van Vlaanderenbrug and Collegebrug). The Noordbrug will open in 2010. The Budabrug and Reepbrug are planned after the opening of the Noordbrug. The construction works started in 1997 and should be ready in 2012.

Cycling and pedestrian areas

Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. In general, cars are led to large underground parkings in the historic center of Kortrijk or Park&Ride parkings at outside the city center. Large parts of the historic center 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 headquartered 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.[9]

The city also provides higher education. The Kortrijk University, 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.

European cooperation

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


Theatres and concert venues

The City Theatre.
  • Kortrijk has several cultural centres, each comprising different locations:
    • Cultural Centre Kortrijk
    • City Theatre (see picture), a neo-Renaissance architecture theatre known for its glass ceiling, an artwork of the French-Algerian artist Alberola
    • Arenatheatre
    • Antigone Theatre
    • Buda Kunstencentrum (Buda Arts Centre), comprising the cinema Budascoop, the artists residence Tacktower and the artists creation space Budafactory
    • The Concertstudio
    • Music Centre Track*
    • Concert venue De Kreun
  • Cinemas
    • Kinepolis, a modern cinema multiplex with 10 screens.
    • Budascoop, a 5 screen cinema, specialised in European movies.

Festivals and events

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

  • Day of the Flemish Community (11 July)
  • Golden River City Jazz Festival (first weekend of September)
  • Humorologie: cabaret festival
  • Next: arts festival in the Eurodistrict Kortrijk-Lille-Tournai
  • Happy New Ears: festival of experimental modern music
  • Budafest: theatre festival
  • The Internationaal Festival van Vlaanderen (April–May): several concerts of classical and modern music.
  • Novarock: rock festival in Kortrijk Xpo
  • Easter Carnival (Paasfoor): during the weeks after Easter
  • Sinxenfestival: one of the most vivid festivals downtown with street artists, concerts and flee markets all over town
  • Kortrijk Congé (July)
  • Summer Carnival (weekend in August)
  • Student Welcome Concert: rock festival to celebrate the start of the new academic year at the Kortrijk University and the Kortrijk Colleges.

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 Lys.


Local specialities include Kalletaart (applecake with Calvados), Peperbollen, Biscuits, and chocolate little beguines. The town of Heule is home to the small brewery Picobrouwerij Alvinne, while Bellegem is the hometown of brewery Bockor.



The new downtown shopping centre K in Kortrijk.
  • Kortrijk was the very first city in Belgium who created a fully pedestrian shopping street (in 1962, the Korte Steenstraat). Later on, a lot of neighbouring streets were also transformed into pedestrian streets. As a result, Kortrijk has nowadays one the biggest carfree areas in Belgium (comprising the main shopping streets Lange Steenstraat, Steenpoort, Sint-Jansttraat, Wijngaardstraat and several squares).
  • Shopping centres:
Kortrijk has several indoor shopping centres such as the Ring Shopping Kortrijk Noord, Bouwcentrum Pottelberg and the new shopping centre K in Kortrijk (opened March 2010). The later is a downtown shopping centre, which links the main shopping street Lange Steenstraat with the Veemarket square and includes as many as 90 shops as electronics store Saturn, H&M, Zara and many other clothes, food and houseware stores.


The Queen Astrid park.
The Groeninge Monument.
  • Beguinagepark
  • Groeningepark: on the historical site of the Groeningekouter where the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs took place. Here one can find the Groeningegate and the Groeninge Monument
  • King Albertpark with the Leiemonument (which commemorates the Battle of the Lys)
  • Gebroeders van Raemdonckpark
  • Queen Astridpark in the Overleie quarter
  • 't Plein (the esplanade): a 19th century park, laid out on a former military zone (the citadel)
  • Park de Blauwe Poort
  • Magdalenapark
  • International Rosegarden
  • Stadsgroen Messeyne
  • Kasteelpark Blommeghem
  • Kasteelpark 't Hooghe
  • Nolfpark
  • Stadsgroen Venning with a butterfly garden


In the Belgian first football division Kortrijk is represented by K.V. Kortrijk. However, Kortrijk has three official football clubs. The most famous of them is K.V. Kortrijk, which plays in the Belgian First Division after having won the championship in the Belgian second division during the 2007–2008 season.
The second club SV Kortrijk plays in the fourth provincial division.
The third club, Wikings Kortrijk, only has youth teams.
  • Basketball
    • Kortrijk Sport CB
    • Basketbalteam Kortrijk
As anywhere in Flanders, professional cycling is very popular. Many cycling races start, finish or pass through the Kortrijk region. Amongst them are the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne, Gent–Wevelgem, the Ronde van Vlaanderen 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.
  • Tennis
    • Tennis Club De Egelantier
KZK Kortrijk is arguably the best waterpolo team in Belgium, having won the Belgian championship nine times. In the 2007–2008 season they won both the championship and the Belgian cup.

Notable citizens

Town twinning

Kortrijk participates in town twinning to encourage good international relations.[11]

Photo gallery

External links



  • Fegley, R. (2002). The Golden Spurs of Kortrijk: How the Knights of France Fell to the Foot Soldiers of Flanders in 1302, 2007. McFarland and Company Inc.. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kortrijk — Kortrijk …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kortrijk —   [ kɔrtrɛjk], französisch Courtrai [kur trɛ], Stadt in der Provinz Westflandern, Belgien, an der Leie, 75 400 Einwohner; Abteilung der Universität Löwen, Kunstmuseum, Nationalmuseum für Leinen; traditionsreiches Zentrum der f …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Kortrijk — (spr. reik), Stadt, s. Courtrai …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kortrijk — (spr. reik), franz. Courtrai, Fabrikstadt in der belg. Prov. Westflandern, an der Lys, (1904) 34.564 E., Damastweberei; hier 11. Juli 1302 die Sporenschlacht, Sieg der Flamländer unter Johann, Grafen von Namur, über die Franzosen unter Robert von …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kortrijk — (Dutch), Kortryk (Afrikaans), Courtrai (French, Romanian), Kortriek (Limburgian) …   Names of cities in different languages

  • Kortrijk — [kôrt′rīk΄] Fl. name for COURTRAI …   English World dictionary

  • Kortrijk — Courtrai Courtrai (nl) Kortrijk …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kortrijk — /kawrddt rdduyk/, n. Flemish name of Courtrai. * * * ▪ Belgium (Flemish),French  Courtrai,    municipality, West Flanders province, western Belgium. It lies along the Leie (Lys) River and the Leie Scheldt Canal. The Roman settlement of Cortracum… …   Universalium

  • Kortrijk — Original name in latin Kortrijk Name in other language Contrai, Cortoriacum, Cortrique, Courtrai, Gorad Kortrehjk, KJK, Kortrajk, Kortreikas, Kortrejk, Kortrejko, Kortrijk, Kortrik, Kortryk, ke te lai ke, khxrth rikh, koleuteuleikeu, kortrejk,… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Kortrijk — Sp Kòrtreikas Ap Kortrijk flamandiškai (olandų k. tarme) Sp Kurtrė nkt. Ap Courtrai prancūziškai L Belgija …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

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