The Belgian city of Tournai is located in Wallonia and is one of the oldest cities in the country. As such it has played a vital role in Belgian history and culture, and the centre of the city has been preserved to such a degree that simply strolling around the streets enables a visitor to take a step back in time and enjoy the range of architectural styles employed over many centuries.
The location of Tournai, on the Roman road linking Cologne and Boulogne, meant that it was settled and fortified by the Romans as early as the 3rd century AD. By the time of the 15th century Tournai had expanded to become an important player in the European textile and tapestry markets, and it was around this time that it was captured by Henry VIII and became the only Belgian town ever to be ruled by England. Although the period was brief, and Tournai was handed over to French rule in 1519 after just six years, it did leave its mark in the form of monuments such as the Tour Henri VIII, a small fortification.