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The mixed Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral of Notre Dame de Tournai and the belfry, considered the oldest in Belgium, Inside the cathedral, the Châsse de Notre-Dame flamande, a beautifully ornate 12th-century reliquary, gives witness to Tournai's wealth in the Middle Ages.Other places of interest are the 13th-century Scheldt bridge (Pont des Trous) and the main square (Grand Place), as well as several old city gates, historic warehouses, and a variety of museums.Tournai is located in the Wallonia region of Belgium, at the southern limit of the Flemish plain, in the basin of the River Scheldt (Escaut in French, Schelde in Dutch).Administratively, the town is part of the Province of Hainaut, itself part of Wallonia.The commune's drive for independence from the local counts succeeded in 1187, and the city was henceforth directly subordinated to the French Crown, as the seigneurie de Tournaisis, as the city's environs are called.The stone Pont des Trous over the Scheldt, with defensive towers at either end, was built in 1290, replacing an earlier wooden structure.
It was also represented in the 1515 Parliament of England.
In 862 Charles the Bald, first king of Western Francia and still to become Holy Roman Emperor, would make Tournai the seat of the County of Flanders.
After the partition of the Frankish empire by the Treaties of Verdun (843) and of Meerssen (870), Tournai remained in the western part of the empire, which in 987 became France.
Tournai, known as Tornacum, was a place of minor importance in Roman times, a stopping place where the Roman road from Cologne on the Rhine to Boulogne on the coast crossed the river Scheldt.
It was fortified under Maximian in the 3rd century AD, Tournai was the capital of the Frankish empire. In turn, a native son of Tournai, Eleutherius, became bishop of the newly created bishopric of Tournai, extending over most of the area west of the Scheldt.
Rocks from the Tournai area date from the Carboniferous Period and have been used to define the Tournaisian Age, a subdivision of the Carboniferous lasting from 359 to 345 million years ago.