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Oudenaarde Town Hall
Municipal flag
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Oudenaarde in East Flanders
Location of Oudenaarde in East Flanders
Oudenaarde is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Sovereign state Belgium Belgium
Region  Flemish Region
Community Flanders Flemish Community
Province  East Flanders
Arrondissement Oudenaarde
Coordinates 50°51′0″N 03°36′0″E / 50.85°N 3.6°E / 50.85; 3.6Coordinates: 50°51′0″N 03°36′0″E / 50.85°N 3.6°E / 50.85; 3.6
Area 68.06 km²
– Males
– Females
28,517 (2006-01-01)
419 inhab./km²
Unemployment rate 6.51% (1 January 2006)
Mean annual income €13,654/pers. (2003)
Mayor Marnic De Meulemeester (VLD)
Governing parties VLD, CD&V-N-VA
Postal codes 9700
Area codes 055

Oudenaarde (French Audenarde, English sometimes Oudenarde) is a Belgian municipality in the Flemish province of East Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Oudenaarde proper and the towns of Bevere, Edelare, Eine, Ename, Heurne, Leupegem, Mater, Melden, Mullem, Nederename, Pamele, Volkegem, and Welden.

From the 15th to the 18th century, but especially in the 16th century, Oudenaarde was a world-known centre of tapestry production. The town's name, meaning “old field”, still lingers on in “outnal”, an obsolete English term for a kind of brown linen thread. Today, Oudenaarde is known as the pearl of the Flemish Ardennes.



The glory of Ename

The history of the current municipality of Oudenaarde starts in 974, when Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, built one of its three fortifications on the Scheldt at Ename to protect his kingdom against possible attacks from Francia (the other two frontier posts were at Valenciennes and Antwerp). Ename grew very fast. By 1005, the town already had a couple of churches and had become the largest town in the duchy of Lotharingia. In 1033, Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders took the city as a frontier post against emperor Henry III. In 1047, Baldwin V consolidated his father’s victory by having his wife found a Benedictine abbey there. By that time, the former merchants and guild artisans of Ename had fled across the Scheldt to the recently founded city of Oudenaarde.

Oudenaarde’s golden age

Oudenaarde on the Deventer map (around 1558)

In the 11th century, Oudenaarde’s economy flourished, thanks to the proximity of the Scheldt and to the burgeoning, but vibrant cloth and tapestry industry. Churches, cloisters and hospitals were built. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city was one of the staunchest supporters of the Counts of Flanders, defending them against insurrections from the South, and even from Ghent. The city became known as the residence of the nobles. It built itself a flagship town hall (built 1526–1537), which we can still admire today, and the St-Walpurga church. Charles V stayed here for a couple of months in 1522 and fathered an illegitimate daughter, Margaret of Parma, who was to become Regent of the Netherlands.


Oudenaarde on the Ferraris map (around 1775)

During the Reformation, the people of Oudenaarde chose Protestantism and allied themselves with Ghent against Charles V. In 1582, after a prolonged siege by Margaret's son, Alexander Farnese, the city finally gave in, causing most merchants, workers, and even nobles to flee. Oudenaarde fell under the Counter-Reformation, which revived for a short while the commerce of tapestry. The glory days, however, never came back. The French attacked and took the city three times in less than a century. In 1708, one of the key battles in the War of the Spanish Succession, known as the Battle of Oudenaarde, was fought in the vicinity of the city. Oudenaarde slumbered as a provincial town under the Habsburg regime.

Like its neighbours, in the 1790s it suffered the religious curtailments imposed by the French Revolution. The city suffered damages during World War I, which is commemorated by several monuments scattered around town.


Church of Our Lady of Pamele
  • The Flamboyant Gothic-style Town Hall and its Belfry were designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999. The city hall houses a unique collection of Oudenaarde tapestries.
  • The Church of Our Lady of Pamele, begun in 1234 on the banks of the Scheldt, and the Church of St Walburga near the market square, are both worth a visit.
  • Oudenaarde is also home to the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, a museum dedicated to the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) cycle race.


  • Recurring events include a beer fest in June, an open-air musical festival in the summer, and an agricultural fair in February. The celebrated Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen, the women's Tour of Flanders cycle race, starts every spring in Oudenaarde. The men's Ronde van Vlaanderen has passed through Oudenaarde on several occasions, and regularly ascends the Koppenberg hill in the municipality.
  • Every ten years, one of Flander’s largest floral displays takes place on the market square (Grote Markt). The last one took place in 2005.

Famous inhabitants


The main football club in Oudenaarde is K.S.V. Oudenaarde.

Twin cities

External links

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