Aalst (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈaːlst]) (French: Alost, Belgium, Local dialect: Oilsjt) is a ceety an municipality on the Dender River, 19 miles northwast frae Brussels. It is locatit in the Flemish province o East Flanders in the Denderstreek. The municipality comprises the ceety o Aalst itsel an the veelages o Baardegem, Erembodegem, Gijzegem, Herdersem, Hofstade, Meldert, Moorsel, an Nieuwerkerken.
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The first historical records on Aalst date frae the 9t century, when it wis described as the villa Alost, a dependency o the Abbey o Lobbes. Durin the Middle Ages, a toun an port grew at this strategic point, whaur the road frae Bruges tae Cologne crossed the Dender. In the 11t century, Aalst wis transferred frae the pagus o Brabant tae the Coonty o Flanders. Its frontier position on the border o the Holy Roman Empire alloued the toun tae keep a certain degree o unthirldom. Its relation wi Brabant haes been preserved in the ceety’s white an red coat o airms, the colours o Lotharingie.
Construction o the toun haw began in the middle o the 12t century, makin it the auldest survivin toun haw in Belgium. Several manuscripts frae this period still survive in the toun archives. The toun haw, an the ceety itsel, wur amaist entirely destroyed bi fire in 1360. The toun wis suin rebuilt an a new belfry in gothic style wis built in the 15t century. This wis a time o great prosperity for the ceety, dominatit bi the pouerful weavers' guild. It is an aa at that time that Dirk Martens, a local citizen, became the Soothren Netherlands’ first printer, foondin a printin shop in 1473 that published beuks bi various authors includin Christopher Columbus; Martens wad later become a professor at the Catholic University o Louvain.
Aalst suffered considerably unner the Aichty Years' War (1568–1648). It wis later taken by the French Marshal Turenne in the War o Devolution o 1667, then occupee'd bi Fraunce til 1706 alang wi Soothren Flanders in general. The textile-based economy flourished unner the French. The 19t century wis marked bi social crises engendered bi the Industrial Revolution, wi Faither Adolf Daens and his Christene Volkspartij emerging as the local defender of wirkers' richts. The 20t century wis marked bi occupation bi the Germans durin baith warld wars. the ceeties citizenry are kent as the onions, the oreegin o the name can be foond back tae medieval times.
The textile industry is still vibrant in Aalst, in pairt acause o the French occupation. Aalst produces no anerlie the textiles themselves, but manufacturs mony o the needit machines. The mair rural regions are notit for their production o hops, which are sauld tae the auld breweries there.
Aalst is famous for its carnival festivities, celebratit ivery year in Februar. A Prince Carnaval is elected, who is alloued tae "rule" the ceety for three days. A big parade crosses the ceety on Sunday, wi aboot 70 groups o costumed volunteers an parade caurs. Carnaval Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday (bi tradition, the day afore Ash Wednesday), is kent as the day o the 'Voil Jeannetten' (literally: "the Dirty Jennies"), i.e. men dressed as weemen. The festivities traditionally end wi the "Burnin o the Doll", happenin on Tuesday fore-nicht.
Steids o interest
- The famous St. Martin's Collegiate Kirk, in Gothic style, dates back tae 1480. It contains a paintin bi Rubens, "Saunt Roch beseechin Christ tae terminate the Plague at Aalst", an it haes an aa a bonnie tabernacle (datit 1605), which features sculpturs made bi Hieronymus Duquesnoy the Elder.
- The belfry next tae the toun haw, ane o the auldest an maist handsome o Flanders, contains a 52-bell carillon. Thegither wi the adjacent Aldermen’s House, it wis classifee'd bi UNESCO as a Warld Heritage Steid in 1999.
- The statue o Dirk Martens (1446–1534), first printer in the Netherlands.
- : Gabrovo
See an aa
- "Aalst." Encyclopædia Britannica
- "Aalst." Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.