Ann de Renais

It is no surprise that when Ann left Belgium to study singing abroad, she chose to pay tribute to her birth town by adopting it as her stage name, albeit with the small subversion of substituting 's' for 'x' in its French translation Renaix. This link with her home town has always been very important to her. It was in Ronse/Renaix that she first sang in the local church choir and she studied music at the music academy. She also was one of the founding members of the vocal Trio Da Rore (Latin translation of the town's name).

She is particularly proud of the fact that her home town has preserved some of its heritage in the form of the beautiful woods called Muziekbos (Music Wood) Muz being Celtic for swamp but also because the composer Peter Benoit's (1834-1901) piano playing could be heard throughout the woods during his visits at his friends' house nearby.

Ronse woods

Armand Demeulemeester
Armand Demeulemeester

Official Website: www.ronse.be/
Links: www.cypriaanderore.be
www.janleenknegt.be

Ronse

Ronse - Renaix

The oldest mention of the town of Ronse goes back to 855 A.C. The name of the town first appeared as Rotnace, derived from the nearby river Ronne.

Saint Amandus and King Dagobert undertook the Christianisation of the region in the 7th and 8th centuries. An abbey dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul was founded and offered by Louis the Pious as part of the "Tenament van Inde" to the Abbey of Kornelimünster in Aachen between 831 and 834.

On demand of the Emperor Lotharius, the relics of Saint Hermes were brought to Ronse from Salzburg. This votive gift was of tremendous importance to the further development of the town both religiously and culturally. A cult dedicated to St Hermes' sacred power in healing mentally ill people soon thrived. A Romanesque crypt - one of the oldest remaining in Europe - was built as a shrine for the Saint's relics and became the place where mentally ill people were cleansed in holy water. The church of Saint Peter and Paul would be rebuilt in 1129 and dedicated to Saint Hermes. The tower of the church functioned as belltower and still offers a breath-taking view of the beautiful hills surrounding the town.

Although psychiatry has replaced saintly interventions, the people of Ronse continue to honour their saint and local traditions in the yearly procession called the Fiertel.

Cultural Treasures

Fiertal

Fiertel

Whether you are Christian or not, the 32 km walk of the Fiertel is a unique walk amongst the most beautiful spots in the Flemish Ardennes. The author Omer Wattez named Ronse the Queen or Pearl of the Flemish Ardennes.

Ronse in the Movies

Several movies have already used these beautiful surroundings as background for their screenings: Daens (1992, director Stijn Coninkx), Witse (2014, director Frank Van Mechelen) and Halfweg (2014, Director Geoffrey Enthoven)

Carnival

One day a year, the working class however became King and Queen of the town. The Bommels is a kind of carnival which takes place on the first Monday after Epiphany. Even today, the city transforms into a huge dress-up party to the sounds of Ephrem Delmotte's Bommoslied.

Villa Carpentier
Villa Carpentier

Musicians and other Artists

Ronse not only offers a unique natural environment, but also boasts a rich historical and cultural past. From the Renaissance onwards an important musical tradition developed here. The world- famous composer Cypriaan de Rore (1515/16-Parma 1565) was born in Ronse, as his name attests. He was one of the leading figures of the Franco-Flemish School of polyphonic vocal music in the Burgundian States (Burgundy, Picardy, Burgundian Flanders, ...) in the 15th and early 16th centuries. An honorary festival in celebration of his name will be held in April 2015. See www.cypriaanderore.be for all information.

Other musicians born in Ronse include jazz-legend Etienne Verschueren, trumpeter Serge Plume and his saxophonist father José Plume, as well as the saxophonist Dieter Limbourg, and sopranos Astrid Stockman and Hanne Roos. Many artists have indeed found their way to this joyful but calm town.

Jan Leenknegt revisited the traditional craft of stained glass windows, while painter Armand De Meulemeester (1926-2002) was inspired by the religious tradition and the exceptional environment of the city. Brigitte Minne explores all the dimensions of this small but bustling city in her theatre and dance performances. She invites the youngest of us to discover her world in the company of Rosalie, a female duck who is omnipresent in town.

Architecture and Musea

A rich architectural heritage testifies to the importance of the city in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. While late-nineteenth-century Ronse was called le petit Bruxelles (little Brussels) on account of its textile barons and their exuberant lifestyle which is still reflected in the many well-preserved belle-époque houses, traces of the roaring twenties and thirties are present in a city quarter which offers all possible variations of the Art-Deco architecture.

The still working weaving-looms from the 19th and 20th centuries form one of the finest museum collections of industrial heritage in Europe. Other former factories have been preserved and transformed into luxury lofts, sport centres and the city's academy for arts, music and literature.

Villa Carpentier, by the famous Art-Nouveau architect Victor Horta, is the only house of his built as a Villa outside the town centre, and hence is surrounded by a beautiful landscape-garden which he himself designed. Other major Belle-Epoque townhouses are listed as national heritage and offer us a hint of what the life of the nineteenthcentury factory directors would have been like. They stand in stark contrast to the cité's (workman's houses) and Koertjes (yards) of workman's-cottages, which have been equally preserved and upgraded.