Tongeren: Wikis


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The Basilica and the statue of Ambiorix
Municipal flag
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Tongeren in Limburg
Location of Tongeren in Limburg
Tongeren is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Sovereign state Belgium Belgium
Region  Flemish Region
Community Flanders Flemish Community
Province  Limburg
Arrondissement Tongeren
Coordinates 50°47′0″N 05°28′0″E / 50.783333°N 5.466667°E / 50.783333; 5.466667Coordinates: 50°47′0″N 05°28′0″E / 50.783333°N 5.466667°E / 50.783333; 5.466667
Area 87.56 km²
– Males
– Females
29,687 (2006-01-01)
339 inhab./km²
Age distribution
0–19 years
20–64 years
65+ years
Unemployment rate 10.77% (1 January 2006)
Mean annual income €12,759/pers. (2003)
Mayor Patrick Dewael, acting mayor Carmen Willems (both VLD)
Governing parties Patrick Dewael, acting mayor Carmen Willems (both VLD)
Postal codes 3700
Area codes 012

Tongeren (French: Tongres, German: Tongern) is a city and municipality located in the province of Limburg, Flemish region, Belgium. Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium. Inhabited in the Roman period by the Tungri, and known as Atuatuca Tungrorum, it was the administrative centre of the district under Roman rule.



Atuatuca Tungrorum

Before the Roman conquests, this area was inhabited by the Atuatuci, part of the Belgic confederacy. During Julius Caesar’s campaigns in this area in the 1st century BC, the Belgae united against Caesar. The Atuatuci were too late for the general Belgic muster and defeat by Caesar; they retreated to their town where the Romans besieged them. They decided to surrender and gave up most of their weapons, but next day sortied against the Roman troops, who defeated them. The day after, the Romans broke down the undefended gates and sold the entire tribe of the Atuatuci into slavery.[1]

The Tungri, more friendly to the Romans, took their place. The town grew into a sizeable settlement known as Atuatuca Tungrorum. Located on the important road linking Cologne to Bavay via the relay of Liberchies, and surrounded by the fertile lands of the Hesbaye region, the settlement quickly became one of the largest Gallo-Roman administrative and military towns in the 1st century. Atuatuca Tungrorum suffered from a destructive fire during the Batavian siege in 70CE. In the 2nd century, it erected a defensive wall, portions of which can still be seen today. Typical Roman buildings were built in town, while villas and graves (tumuli) dotted the surrounding area. In the 4th century, the city became the center of a Christian diocese – one of the earliest in the Low Countries – under the influence of Saint Servatius, bishop of Tongeren, later or also bishop of Maastricht, who died in 384CE.[2] It may have been destroyed by the Huns in 451CE.

Middle Ages


The Merovingian period between the 5th and the 8th century is not well documented. The building of a new church and the foundation of a chapter of canons took place in Carolingian times, at the very place where the old bishops’ houses stood, and where the basilica still stands today. The construction of the current basilica started at the beginning of the 13th century in the prevalent Gothic style of that period. Other buildings were added to the religious core of the city, including new commercial areas, hospitals and artisans quarters. The 13th century also saw the building of the medieval defensive wall, several new churches and cloisters, and the beguinage. The city became one of the “bonnes villes” (or principal cities) of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.

From 17th century until contemporary age

In 1677, the city was burned almost entirely by Louis XIV’s troops, a catastrophe from which Tongeren never completely recovered. The rebirth of the city dates from after 1830.

Tongeren is currently the judicial capital of the Limburg province.

Main sights

Púmpkëskal (Pump-chat, púmpkë=pump [diminutive], kal=chat).
  • The Béguinage, founded in 1257, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Its enclosure wall was destroyed in the 19th century: it separated the beguinage from the rest of the city and thus garantueed peace and quiet for the small religion-inspired community. In the 17th century the beguinage counted some 300 beguines; it was also able to survive the 1677 fire that destroyed most of the city.
  • The Tongeren Basilica (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Basiliek), built in Gothic style in the 13th century, where recent excavations have produced some of the richest archaeological finds in Flanders. Archaeological excavations have proven the presence of an edifice here starting from the 4th century, while a Carolingian prayer house existed here in the 9th century. The building of the choir of the present basilica began in 1240. Nave, transepts and side chapels were added between the 13th and 15th century. The original Romanesque tower was replaced by the present, 64 m-tall Gothic tower from 1442 until 1541. The basilica's interior is home to the statue of Our Lady of Tongeren, executed in 1475. The treasury is housed in the former hall of the Chapter and comprises one of the richest collections of religious art in Belgium.
  • Church of St. Catherine, built in Gothic style in 1294 but modified later in different styles. Works of art include the 1711 pulpit by Robrecht Verburgh, the main altarpiece by Gaspar de Crayer (17th century) and a sculpture of the "Suffering Christ", donated by the beguine Anna de Floz.
  • The Gallo-Roman museum, which houses Celtic gold, Roman glassware, Merovingian filigree work, and the dodecahedron, an unusual Gallo-Roman object found during excavations
  • The original Roman wall, dating from the 2nd century, still visible on more than 1,500 meters.
  • Some of the medieval defensive towers, also still visible today
  • Statue of Ambiorix, executed in 1866


  • The Kroningsfeesten (“Coronation Celebrations”) are organized every seven years in commemoration of the crowning of the miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Bishop Doutreloux in 1890. This religious procession, one of the largest and most impressive in Belgium, will take place for the seventeenth time in 2009.
  • A well-attended antiques fair takes place every Sunday.

Famous inhabitants

International relations

Tongeren is twinned with:

It is also a partner city of:


Women's volleyball club Datovoc Tongeren plays at the highest level of the Belgian league pyramid.


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Tongeren (French: Tongres, German: Tongern) is a city and municipality located in the province of Limburg, Flemish region, Belgium. Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium. Known as Atuatuca Tungrorum to the Romans, it was the administrative centre of the district Tungri under their rule.

Get in

By train By bus By car

Get around

By car By bus On foot


Our Lady's Basilica:

Statue of Ambiorix, the fearsome leader of the Eburons. A tribe that slayed two of Caesars legions in 54 B.C.

Roman walls

Medieval walls

Gallo-Roman Museum

Old gate

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