Today’s post has been a long time coming. Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to go on my first trip overseas. You may remember my post on my Day In Paris. Well, after my taste of Paris we were off to the charming city of Kortrijk, Belgium. My husband works for a Belgian based company and has travel overseas a few times a year. Kortrijk is always home base when he has to make the trip.
Let’s Take A Stroll Through Kortrijk!
We were in Kortrijk for 3 days and I found myself on my own while he was at work so I decided to do a little exploring. I mean, how could I NOT?! I asked the clerks at the hotel’s front desk for a map of the area and headed out on foot. Thank goodness most people are multilingual and speak Dutch, French and English. I wish I had taken French in high school. Instead I took four years of Italian. So I guess we will have to go to Italy someday!
Kortrijk dates back to the middle ages and although it is not one of the touristy towns like Brussels or Bruges, it is rich in history. While there is some modernism in this town it is also full of beautiful Medieval architecture.
I love how people dine Al Fresco all throughout Europe. Almost all of the restaurants have outdoor seating so one can enjoy the fresh air and take in the view.
The Beguinage Of Kortrijk
I was delighted to take a quiet walk through the Beguinage of Kortrijk.
So what exactly is a beguinage? It is something like a convent. According to Wikipedia, a beguinage is an architectural complex that was built to house religious women that have not taken vows or those who are retiring from the world.
Founded around 1238, this beautiful complex features 41 dwellings, most of which are still lived in today. The buildings surround a lovely, peaceful courtyard and quiet street.
From the beguinage your can get a peek at the beautiful Saint Martin’s Church tower which is close by.
St. Martin’s Church in Kortrijk
I LOVED St. Martin’s Church and spent quite a bit of time in there admiring it’s beauty.
St. Martin’s church was built from 1390 to 1466 with a few refurbishments due to fire damage in the 1800’s.
I was in awe of it’s beautiful gothic style architecture. It is something you really don’t see in the U.S.
The stain glass windows were just amazing.
Next on the tour is the Groeningepoort. Built in 1908, this arch marks the entrance to a park and commemorates the 600th anniversary to the Battle of The Golden Spurs. Looking at it, I never would have guessed it had been built so recently. It looks as though it has been there for centuries.
THE BROEL TOWERS
One of my favorite spots to visit was Broel Towers. Quoted from the information on their website: “The towers (Broeltorens) are constructed from limestone and sandstone. The southern ‘Speytorre’ was constructed in 1385 to control traffic on the Leie river. The tower was also part of the fortifications of the Counts of Flanders’ first castle in Kortrijk. The northerly ‘Inghelburghtorre’, dating back to 1415, served as a weapons depot and was equipped for the use of artillery. The Broel bridge originally dates back to 1385. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.”
I could just imagine horse drawn carts being pulled over this bridge back in the day and just had to walk over it.
Shopping In Kortrijk
Kortrijk has a bunch of shopping opportunities with some designated traffic-free streets chock full of shops and a few indoor shopping malls. There was one mall near the hotel so one day I decided to do a bit of shopping. The book store was a bust for me as I could not understand a word in any of the books but I did find a H&M. I think those stores are everywhere!
They had a charming little antique store but it wasn’t open when I came across it. BTW, in Belgium stores shut down every night at 6:00 sharp. As an American I am not used to this but I am sure it gives shop owners and employees some nice downtime.
I love looking at shop windows. This particular window got my attention and left me scratching my head! Um, ok, I guess this is some sort of art piece?
Looking for a nice cup of decaf coffee? Good luck finding it. This sign was in the little cafe right outside the hotel!
TRAVEL TIP: When traveling abroad make sure you have some cash on hand. I was surprised to find out that they actually charge you to use public toilets! I found this out the hard way when I came walking out of the bathroom at the mall. There was a smiling lady sitting at the counter asking for money! I am not sure what would have happened if I didn’t have and money! My husband is over there as I write this and today he was charged 70 cents to use the bathroom in the Netherlands. I didn’t encounter this at all in France but I will make sure I always have some cash with me on future trips so I am not standing outside a restroom doing the pee pee dance.
After leaving Kortijk we spent a day in beautiful Bruges. I will be writing a post on THAT in the near future. Bruges is absolutely gorgeous so stay tuned!
If you have enjoyed this article and would like to see more pictures I will be posting them on my Pinterest Board Travels To Europe. So hop on over and check that out and be sure to click follow!
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