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Sint-Niklaas

Sint-Niklaas is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of East Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Sint-Niklaas proper and the towns of Belsele, Nieuwkerken-Waas, and Sinaai.Sint-Niklaas is the capital and major city of the Waasland region straddling the East Flanders and Antwerp provinces. The city is known for having the largest market square in Belgium. At one point this square also boasted the largest Christmas tree, and the largest easter egg in Europe.HistoryThirteenth-century originsAlthough some traces of pre-Roman activity have been found on the territory of Sint-Niklaas, the regional centre during Roman times was neighbouring Waasmunster, better located on the river Durme. Belsele was already mentioned in a 9th-century document. The history of Sint-Niklaas proper, however, starts in 1217, when the bishop of Tournai, following advice from the local clergy, founded a church to Saint Nicholas here. The new parish was to depend on the See of Tournai until the middle of the 16th century. Politically, however, it was part of the County of Flanders. The power of Flanders at that time favoured the quick economic development of the city, which became the administrative centre of the region in 1241. A document dated from 1248 records that Margaret II, Countess of Flanders, ceded additional territory to the parish of Sint-Niklaas with the proviso that it would remain bare, which explains the unusual size of the central market square today.
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