On Sunday July 1, 2012, participants will be welcomed with a reception offered by the Province of East Flanders. The reception will be held in the 15th-century Groot Vleeshuis ("Great Meat Market") in the city centre. Participants may also register during the reception.
The Groot Vleeshuis was built between 1407 and 1419. Meat houses such as this were covered markets where sales were centralised to guarantee the freshness and quality of the meat sold. Sales at home were forbidden until the end of the 19th century. For reasons of hygiene, 16 tripe storehouses were built onto the south-eastern side of the Groot Vleeshuis between 1542 and 1543. These separate storehouses were used to sell entrails, skin, and other remains from slaughtered animals.
The main architectural feature of the Groot Vleeshuis is the series of impressive buttresses. A chapel with three large pointed arch windows was constructed in the building between 1446 and 1448. The chapel contains a 15th-century wall painting depicting a worship service typical of the era.
When meat sales at home were legalised at the end of the 19th century, the Groot Vleeshuis changed function. It became a post office first, then a storage depot, exhibition area, and a banquet hall. The Groot Vleeshuis now houses a covered market for regional products and has large hams hanging from the ceiling, reminiscent of the old days of the meat market.
Het Groot Vleeshuis