Genk is a city and municipality in the Belgian province of Limburg, not far from Hasselt. The municipality solely includes the city of Genk. It is one of Flanders’ most prominent industrial towns, situated on the Albert Canal between Antwerp and Liège.
54 % of the population is of foreign origin, representing around 85 different nationalities, with the majority being Italians, Turks, and Greeks.
Tourism in Genk
- The most popular tourist attraction in Genk is Bokrijk, an open-air museum comprised of actual relocated buildings (mostly from the 17th to the 19th centuries) from all across Flanders. Throughout the summer, medieval Flanders comes to life in Bokrijk thanks to a slew of performers and re-enactment activities.
- When the Hoge Kempen National Park, Flanders’ first National Park, opened in 2006, Genk was designated as one of its “gateways.”
- The historic coalmines of Zwartberg, Waterschei, and Winterslag are also remarkable, flanked by slag heaps and massive black mountains of dug up soil and coal residues. Some of the mining structures and houses are open to the public.
- Despite its industrial background and present, Genk is affectionately known as ‘De Groene Stad’ (The Green City). It has a natural reserve named “De Maten,” a big recreational area called Kattevennen (which includes the Europlaneterium), Bokrijk, and various other green spaces. If the weather is nice, you may also wish to go to Sundial Park (Dutch: Zonnewijzerpark). The Museum Emile Van Doren chronicles the history of landscape artists who visited Genk between 1840 and 1940.
- A planetarium and observatory are available at the Europlanetarium Genk.
- Motives Festival, an annual event held in November that celebrates “new sounds of jazz,” is held in Genk. Recent performances have included Esbjörn Svensson Trio’s blazing piano jazz, groovy saxman Joshua Redman, and futuristic electronics maestro Leafcutter John. Genk on Stage, another musical festival, takes place over three days in the summer.
- Genk is also steeped in history, with a colorful carnival held around Ash Wednesday, May festivities that include the May Queen, a flowers march, and a massive fireworks finale, and finally the Saint Martin procession, which honors Saint Martin of Tours, one of Flanders’ most beloved saints.
Economy of Genk
Genk is the industrial center of the province of Limburg, with over 45,000 employment, making it the third most important city in Flanders economically.
Until recently, Ford Motor Company’s Genk Body & Assembly plant was the biggest and most significant employer in Genk, employing over 5,000 people and producing the Mondeo sedan and hatchback, Galaxy (second generation, 2006 and on) MPV/minivan, and S-MAX sub-MPV. In 2014, the plant was shuttered.