From 2015, the belgian city of Tournai, rich of buildings of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, has been perfecting a plan for the redevelopment of the Scheldt and its banks. By voting on January 28, the enlargement of the docks, the municipality has endorsed the destruction of one of the masterpieces of the city, the “bridge of Holes”, dating from the Thirteenth century. He will be replaced by a modern building, built to pass vessels of large tonnage. This expansion project responds to the need of the large Seine-Nord canal, which will link the port of le Havre in the Benelux. The work, financed by the walloon region and the european Union, will begin in the course of the year.

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The international Council on monuments and sites, a nongovernmental organization, stated in a letter to the ministry of the Heritage of Wallonia, the “bridge of Holes” has an “iconic” and is located “within an area of great heritage interest”.

Erected in the Thirteenth century, it is one of only three military bridges still existing in the world. It was part of a vast enceinte of the city. Fifty years were necessary for its construction. He resisted in 1340 to the attack by Edward III, king of England. But not to the damage of the Second world War. In 1948, the main arch was rebuilt, but with a splash of 2,40 meters and extended.

The risk of decommissioning to the Unesco

The international Council on monuments and sites, invites the government of Wallonia to inform Unesco of the decision. The cathedral of Notre-Dame and the belfry of the city are both enrolled on its list of world heritage. One such development in the protected area could result in the decommissioning final of the city. On social networks, people are concerned about the loss of a label that provides a attractiveness of outstanding the City of the five bell towers.

The cultural associations of Tournai crying foul and demanding the suspension of the decision passed by the socialist majority and eco-friendly. The Friends of the citadel, the foundation Pasquier Grenier and Friends of the cathedral of Tournai, joined by the royal Society of history and archaeology of the city, have launched a petition online. It has nearly 8,000 signatures to date.

synthesized Image of the future “bridge of Holes”. © JL DERU /© JL DERU / An arch “Mcdonald’s” for the 2,000 tons

The three arches of the bridge will be replaced “by a kind of mesh, is much higher, and a particularly inelegant,” judge Didier Rykner, founder of the website the gallery of the Art. He has published a long text to denounce “this vandalism is senseless”. In the city, the nickname, ” ark “Mcdonald’s” short already. The stone arch will measure 30 cm thick to give a feeling of lightness.

Now, barges of 2,000 tons – approximately 70 meters – will be able to travel on the river. According to the official documents of the municipality of Tournai, the work will “not only improve the navigability of the river, but also to redefine the set of docks that will leave more room for soft modes and for recreation.”

To avoid this destruction, a workaround for the construction of another canal had been envisaged in 2007. It was quickly abandoned because too expensive. The municipality has chosen to turn the bridge. A popular consultation was organised in the year 2015: 16% of the population participate and to choose a style of stone, close to the original form. Several meetings citizens are then charged to clarify the wishes of the population. The aesthetic stone comes out completely transformed, much to the dismay of the population, which, according to a public survey of the city, don’t like the look of the building designed by the architect Olivier Bastin.

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“The yellow vests” are mingled this Sunday, waving banners reading “not touch with my heritage” and lighting flares from the top of the bridge. A battle is likely already lost. At least the threat of Unesco to downgrade the city or a decline of the walloon region, the bridge will disappear by the end of the year.

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