Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
| Metropolitan area population (1999)|
(in French: aire urbaine)
|including Lens: 552,682|
Douai is a city and commune in the north of France in the département of Nord, of which it is a sous-préfecture. Located on the river Scarpe some 25 miles (40 km) from Lille and 16 miles (25 km) from Arras, Douai is home to one of the region's most impressive belfries.
Construction started on Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 metre (262 foot) high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying German forces, who intended to melt them down for the metal. They were reinstalled after repairs in 1924, but 47 of them were replaced in 1954 to obtain a better sound. An additional larger bell in the summet, a La called "Joyeuse", dates from 1471 and weighs 5.5 tonnes. The chimes are rung by a mechanism every quarter hour, but are also played via a keyboard on Saturday mornings and at certain other times.
The sustantial Porte de Valenciennes town gate, a reminder of the town's past military importance, was built in 1453. One face is built in Gothic style, while the other is of Classical design.
The main industries in the town are in the chemical, automobile and metal engineering sectors.
Douai was the birthplace of:
- Giambologna, born as Jean Boulogne (1529-1608), sculptor
- Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802), statesman
- Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859), poet
Colleges and universities
- École des Mines de Douai
- Law University
- Nurse School
- Official city website (in French)
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