The last on the list of the main places we wanted to visit in Belgium was Tournai, a city on the western side of Belgium, right on the French border. Home most famously to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Tournai and the 12th-century Belfry, both UNESCO sites, Tournai sits along the banks of the Schedlt river. It's a compact place, easy to wander and has beautiful architecture to witness and some interesting stories to tell.
We had hoped to spot the symbolic Bridge of Holes, a 13th century structure that once spanned the River Schedlt. Unfortunately, it was dismantled in 2019, much to the dismay of the locals, to make way for bigger barges to be able to travel down the river. The moment saw the town in mourning and we felt sadness for the choice to destroy a piece of history for the benefit of economic gains. So, instead of seeing the beautiful bridge, we sat along the riverbanks and read articles allowed and cherished the memory of what once was.
What we did get to see while here was, however, impressive. The most famous building in Tournai is the impressive Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Tournai with a whopping five towers. The sheer volume of this place, and the architectural changes of the cathedral dating back to the Roman times as discovered through excavation work, means this place is listed as a UNESCO site. It's currently undergoing major restoration works, but you still can't help but be impressed by the size and history.
The other fascinating part of Tournai is the fact that it is home to the oldest residential houses in Europe! Situated on the Rue Barre Saint-Brice, these middle class homes with Romanesque gables and stone columns date back to AD 1175-1200. Now housing a doctors' practice and a church, you can see the magnificent craftsmanship in the glass and design that has withstood the years.