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Visiting the Cathedral-sized parish church of Warneton / Waasten, Belgium: monumentality by the Lys, bordering France

Updated on February 14, 2013
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Church of St. Peter and St, Paul, Warneton, Belgium
Church of St. Peter and St, Paul, Warneton, Belgium | Source
View of the centre fo Waarneton / Waasten on the Lys river
View of the centre fo Waarneton / Waasten on the Lys river | Source
Map location of Comines-Warneton, Hainaut province, Belgium
Map location of Comines-Warneton, Hainaut province, Belgium | Source

A soaring, riverside landmark

There are actually two places called Warneton.

The one where this huge church is situated is in Warneton, in the Walloon region (French: RĂ©gion wallonne), Belgium.The other Warneton is situated on the southern bank of the Lys (Dutch: Leie) River, and is known as Warneton-Nord (i.e., -North), referring not to its location in relation to its namesake in Belgium, but rather to the French department of Nord, which, running generally south-east from the North Sea (French: Mer du Nord; Dutch: Noordzee) adjoins the border with Belgium for many kilometres.

The church of St. Peter and St Paul at Warneton was opened in 1927, replacing a previous structure destroyed in World War One. Its style is described as Romanesque-Byzantine, with proportions that are enormous: indeed, this cathedral-like structure is sometimes referred to as the Cathedral of the Lys. Its square tower surpasses a height of 60 metres. Some of the interior furnishings are in Baroque style, dating from 1714; and 14th century tombs have survived.

At Warneton there was a former abbey. The address of the church is still called place de l'Abbaye, 7784 Comines-Warneton / Abdijplein 7784, Komen-Waasten

Unless, of course, one wishes to think of the two Warnetons, joined to each other by a bridge across the Lys River as really one place. Something similar pertains further along the Lys River: Comines, Belgium is joined by a bridge to Comines, France; and Wervik, Belgium is again joined to Wervicq-Sud, France by another bridge.

In the second view of the building which I have supplied, right, the foreground partly shows the Lys river, marking the boundary with France.

One of the great differences administratively between the two Warnetons is that the Belgian one is officially bilingual. Although mainly French-speaking, it has a protected Dutch-speaking minority; the Dutch form of the place-name is Waasten.

Warneton / Waasten forms part of the municipality of Comines-Warneton (Dutch: Komen-Waasten), in Belgium's Hainaut (Dutch: Henegouwen) province.

February 14, 2013

Also worth seeing

In Warneton itself, the former town hall is a striking, brick building with a tower.

Comines, France (distance: 6.7 kilometres) the Town Hall, with its belfy, and St Chrysole church, also with its belfy and war memorial, are impressive structures.


How to get there: Brussels has the nearest large international airport to Warneton / Waasten. Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National); from where car rental is available. The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service between Brussels and Comines/Komen, distance from Brussels Airport to Warneton / Waasten: 132 kilometres). You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Appropriate consular sources should be referred to for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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