Aalst is a Flemish city in the province Oost-Vlaanderen and is located on the river Dender, between Brussels and Gent.
Aalst is mentioned for the first time in history in 868 in documents of the abbey of Lobbes. The oldest part of the city was probably at the location of the Old Hospital. Most likely, at this place (at the banks of river Dender) a church was founded.
Around the 11th century a fortification was built on the Dender. Aalst became more important, since it was located along the merchandise road Bruges – Aachen – Cologne.
From the 12th century on a lot of ship traffic started on the river Dender. In the 14th century there were several market places which were well known and visited. A further expansion during the middle ages was limited due to the fortifications and ramparts of the city. This typical view changed like in many European cities during the industrial revolution. In the 19th century Aalst was an important center for textile production.
Today, Aalst is still a very important city with about 250 000 people in metro. Aalst is of course mostly known for its carnival, which is the biggest and most important of Belgium. Most remarkable buildings of the city are Sint-Martinuskerk and Belfort van Aalst.