City (pop., 2000 est.: 116,200), northwestern Belgium. First mentioned in 7th-century records, it was the site of a castle built in the 9th century by the first counts of Flanders against Norman invaders. It joined the Hanseatic League and was a major marketplace in the 13th century. As the centre of the Flemish cloth industry, it was the commercial hub of northern Europe. In the 15th century it was home to Jan van Eyck and other painters of the Flemish school (seeFlemish art). It declined as a port and textile centre but later revived with the construction of canals linking it with the North Sea. Shipbuilding, food processing, chemicals, electronics, and tourism are the main industries.