Top Historic Sights in Kortrijk, Belgium

Explore the historic highlights of Kortrijk

Kortrijk City Hall

The City Hall of Kortrijk is situated on the main square of the Belgian city of Kortrijk. The facade of the late-Gothic, early Renaissance city hall is adorned with the statues of the Counts of Flanders. As early as the 14th century, Kortrijk possessed a town hall, which was, however, completely gutted down by the French army after the victory at Westrozebeke in 1382. In 1420, a larger town hall was built in High Gothic ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Kortrijk Belfry

The belfry (Belfort) of Kortrijk stands in the centre of the Grote Markt and was part of the former cloth hall. The earliest mention of the cloth hall dates back to 1248. The belfry is an imposing square tower, slightly sunk into the market square. This is due to the market being raised throughout the centuries. The view from the tower was mainly determined in 1520 with the reconstruction of the upper section of the tower ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Church of Our Lady

Construction work on the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) began in 1199 on the initiative of Count Baldwin IX. The church was located on the estate of Kortrijk that was fortified and completely walled in, with the exception of an area on the Leie. Of this early Gothic church only the west facade, the nave and the transept remain. The towers were constructed at the end of the 13th century. After the Battle of Wes ...
Founded: 1199 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Kortrijk Béguinage

The Saint Elisabeth Béguinage (Begijnhof) from 1238 is a combination of a béguinage square and street and was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. The Kortrijk béguinage was surrounded by the castle of the Counts of Flanders, the city walls and the St. Martin"s Church Cemetery and is situated between the Church of Our Lady and the St. Martin"s Church. The Kortrijk béguinage ha ...
Founded: 1238 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

St. Martin's Church

The site occupied by St. Martin's Church (Sint-Maartenskerk) was already a place of worship in around 650 AD. Later a Romanesque church was built there, which was replaced by a Gothic church in the Middle Ages, built between 1390 and 1466. The Brabantine Gothic stone tower dates from 1439. But in 1862 the tower was struck by lightning and the wooden section was completely destroyed by fire. The spire was fully restored to ...
Founded: 1390-1466 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Broel Towers

The Broel Towers are known as one of the most important symbols of Kortrijk city. Although they look identical, the towers were not built at the same time. The Southern tower, also known as the Speyetoren, was built in 1385 to control the traffic on the river Lys. This tower was part of the fortified fence of the first medieval castle of the Counts of Flanders. The Speyentoren was also part of the 12th century rampart, de ...
Founded: 1385/1415 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.