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Oudenaarde DI-677.jpg
Flag of Oudenaarde
Coat of arms of Oudenaarde
Coat of arms
Oudenaarde is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
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Country Belgium
Community Flemish Community
Region Flemish Region
Province East Flanders
Arrondissement Oudenaarde
 • Mayor Marnic De Meulemeester (VLD)
 • Governing party/ies VLD, CD&V
 • Total 68.06 km2 (26.28 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2013)[1]
 • Total 30,248
 • Density 440/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Postal codes 9700
Area codes 055
Website www.oudenaarde.be

Oudenaarde (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʌu̯dənaːrdə], 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, Welden, Volkegem and a part of Ooike.

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.


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 on the Deventer map (around 1558)

Oudenaarde’s golden age

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-Walburga 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.

Capture of Oudenaarde by Alexander Farnese, 1582


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 for a short while revived 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 religious curtailment imposed by the French Revolution. The city later suffered damage during World War I, which is commemorated by several monuments scattered around town.


  • 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 Tour of Flanders, a museum dedicated to the Tour of Flanders (Tour of Flanders) cycle race.
  • Since 2008 the village of Mater in Oudenaarde has been the home of Belgium's smallest craft brewery: the Smisje Brewery (previously located in Bruges).


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


The main football club in Oudenaarde is K.S.V. Oudenaarde.
Since 2012, Oudenaarde is the finish of Tour of Flanders.

The Koppenbergcross is part of the BPost Bank Trophy cyclo-cross race on the Koppenberg hilside of Oudenaarde.

Notable inhabitants

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities


External links