ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting architecturally impressive Oudenaarde, Belgium: outstanding craftsmanship in Flanders

Updated on July 1, 2013
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Town Hall at Oudenaarde, Belgium
Town Hall at Oudenaarde, Belgium | Source
Church of St. Walburga, Oudenaarde
Church of St. Walburga, Oudenaarde | Source
Map location of Oudenaarde, East Flanders, Belgium
Map location of Oudenaarde, East Flanders, Belgium | Source

An undercurrent of the grotesque, too?

This Belgian town has some outstanding, well preserved architecture.

First, though, some basic facts.

Where is it and how do you spell it?

It's in Flanders, Belgium. That is to say, in the Flemish Region of Belgium. In Belgian provincial terms, it is in East Flanders (Dutch: Oost-Vlaanderen). So, the town is in the east of Belgium, then; to the east of Flanders? Actually, no; it's in the west of Belgium and Flanders. So, why call it East Flanders? Well, it's what they have called it for centuries, so if someone changed it now, people would think it was odd. Better for the rest of us to think it odd, instead.

Right.

So how do you spell the town? Well, in the town itself, and in Flanders, it is spelt: Oudenaarde. Beginning with an 'O'. But it can sometimes be hard to look up in an index, because in French it's spelt with an 'A': Audenarde. And since British and North American visitors have been around Belgium for such a long time, they have also developed their own spelling as well: Oudenarde. Unless, that is, they use the Dutch spelling. Or the French one.

It's on the Scheldt River , too. ('Scheldt' is the spelling used in English. Belgians don't tend to use it, though.) In Dutch, the spelling is 'Schelde' and in French, 'Escaut'. In Oudenaarde, better to use the Dutch spelling ... .

Oudenaarde's Town Hall

So we come to the Town Hall (Dutch: Stadhuis). The balance and complexity of its lines, in Brabantine Gothic style, is almost breathtaking. While incorporating some 14th century elements at its rear, the main structure was erected from 1526 to 1537 by Hendrik van Pede. Some of the building's design pattern features are said to honour Emperor Charles V, who stayed in the town a few years before the building was started.

Tapestry production was a noted activity in the town and the interior of the Town Hall possesses some fine examples of these locally produced items.

Such a fine Town Hall is testimony to the prosperity which marked Oudenaarde in the 16th century. In fact, the town lost a significant proportion of its merchants and artisans during that century. This was a more religious age, and after many of them embraced a Protestant understanding of Scripture, the controversies and repression which ensued meant that large numbers of the more productive citizens went into exile. In subsequent centuries under Habsburg rule, the town did not prosper as it once had.

The Sint-Walburgakerk

This striking church building was begun in the 12th century. Its huge tower, 88 metres tall, was built in stages between 1498 and 1624. It style is described as early Gothic.

In the 16th century, the church was damaged by Protestants. In World Wars One and Two the church was again damaged, and repeatedly restored.

In the partly Baroque interior of the church, I was struck by the flamboyant and even grotesque carvings, which inform some of the grave monuments of prominent people buried there.

Noted local people

These include:

Margaret of Parma (1522-1586), the daughter of Emperor Charles V, she was the Governor of the Netherlands during crucial — and sanguinary — periods of history.

Jotie T'Hoofd (1956-1977) was a local, Dutch language poet, whose works have proved popular. He is noted for a thematic preoccupation with death in his works.

Also worth seeing

Bruges (Dutch: Brugge ; distance: 59 kilometres) has numerous cultural treasures and examples of Medieval architecture, both ecclesiastical and secular. Since the Middle Ages, its 83 metre Belfry has been a major landmark. A canal tour is a useful way for the visitor to become better acquainted with this outstanding city.

Kluisberg / Mont de l'Enclus (distance: 11 kilometres); this picturesque, wooded hill attracts many visitors, and lies on the Dutch/French linguistic boundary.

Tournai (distance: 36 kilometres), its magnificent architectural heritage includes its 12th and 13th century Cathedral and a fine Medieval tower.

Antoing (distance: 47 kilometres), town on the Scheldt River , with an ancient castle belonging to the de Ligne Princes.

Ghent (Dutch: Gent ; distance: 29 kilometres), outstanding historical and architectural treasures include the Medieval castle, the Gravensteen , its 14th to 16th century Cathedral and the picturesque Leie River frontage of old gabled buildings.

St.-Amand-les-Eaux , France (distance: 58 kilometres), has an intricately crafted tower housing a museum.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Oudenaarde (distance: 84 kilometres). The Belgian NMBS / SNCB railroad company maintains a service between Brussels and Oudenaarde. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

For your visit, these items may be of interest

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MJFenn profile imageAUTHOR

      MJFenn 

      7 years ago

      Fietslogies: Thank-you for your comment ( — dank U well — I lived in Belgium, too, many years ago).

    • profile image

      Fietslogies 

      7 years ago

      The river Scheldt is also ideal for cycling to the north towards Ghent or to the south (Tournai and Antoing in Wallonia or Saint-Amand-les-Eaux in France). Nearly all of the towpaths are car free.

      In the heart of Oudenaarde, cyclists will like to visit the interactive Center for the Tour of Flanders. I'm sure that some of them rather prefer the hills and the cobblestones in the surroundings of Oudenaarde instead of the asphalted towpaths. ;-)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)