Kortrijk

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In Kortrijk where the Leie is wider and commercial traffic more frequent, there are two moorings: the city quay and a small yacht harbour 5 minutes from the old centre. To get to the latter one has to fit under a 2.95m bridge. As our boat is about 3.50m with the roof down, we naturally opted for the quay. However, the quay was fully occupied. There was nothing left to do but to turn around, take the roof and all bridge windows down and squeeze once again under a very low bridge. Of course we forgot about our satellite dish, and held our breath as it cleared the bridge with millimetres to spare.

A lot of Kortrijk was destroyed in the wars, but there are still some interesting remnants of the medieval town. The city is also renown for its modern architecture, and has successfully combined the old with the new, like the super modern glass building of the regional visitors centre/museum within the remnants of an old abbey. 

The museum contains a WWI exhibition with original film footage from the Red Baron and his team of pilots. In other film clips actors play the parts of Belgian and German military and ordinary people of the time.

Of great local importance and having become a part of the Flemish identity is "The War of the Golden Spurs”, a romanticised battle between a well equipped French Army of Philip the Fair and brave knights and peasants of Flanders on the other side. In this battle here in Kortrijk, the Flemish overwhelmingly defeated the French.

We also came again across a Beguine village and learned a little more about this lay order. Thanks to the support of influential nobility, like the countess of Flanders, Joan of Constantinople, the order was able to grow and keep their independence from church and religion. The word “Beguine” apparently derives from the French word “bégayer" = to stammer, mutter - as they were "constantly muttering prayers” (the same word which became the English word “to beg”). The Beguines did not have to pledge poverty and took care of their own income by letting land and rooms. Some came from wealthy families and were able to contribute financially. They lived under the lead of the “Grand Dame”, a kind of Mother Superior.



Strolling through the modern and prestigious pedestrian shopping streets, we just happened to find ourselves in Leonidas Chocolate shop. Mmmmm!!!


Contemplating that this might be our last night on Belgian soil before crossing the French border, we relaxed on the “beach” at the river bank with a glass of the local 10% Belgian beer.

© Austin Robinson 2019