The former bailiff's office
|Intercommunality||Pays de Saint-Omer|
|o Mayor (2014-2020)||Jean-Claude Dissaux|
|33.38 km2 (12.89 sq mi)|
|o Density||300/km2 (770/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||16-48 m (52-157 ft) |
(avg. 22 m or 72 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Aire-sur-la-Lys is mentioned for the first time in 857. It developed around a fort or castrum built by Baldwin II, Count of Flanders in response to the Norman invasions. More growth followed with the establishment of the Collegiate church of Saint-Pierre by Baldwin V, Count of Flanders.
The town was laid siege ten times between 1127 and 1710. It was separated from the County of Flanders and attached to the County of Artois in 1196. Subsequently ruled by the Burgundians then by the Spanish.
The town was besieged in 1676 by Vauban and retaken for France, although it remained a Spanish possession until 14 April 1713, when, by the Treaty of Utrecht, it finally became a part of France.
Vauban's stronghold, which was a strategic position, was dismantled in 1893.
The church is one of the most important monuments, with its imposing style, in Artois. It has all the characteristics of a cathedral, but in the absence of a bishop, it cannot claim that title. Witness to the splendour of the city, the collegiate church of Saint-Pierre is of Romanesque style. Built between 1492 and the eighteenth century, one can see both on the inside and the outside of the building carving that details the 400 years progress. It has been the parish church since 1802. The tower, completed in 1624, collapsed soon after. Ten years later, the damage was repaired. The top of the tower was again restored between May 2005 and April 2007. The ground floor, the nave, choir and high arches are essentially Gothic.
The dimensions of the building are impressive:
It was classified a historical monument in 1862.
A Flemish Renaissance style building which was built between 1595 and 1600, as guardrooms for the militia of the city. It is commonly known as the Le Bailliage (Bailiwick), because at various times between 1634 and 1789, it served as the seat of the court bailiffs. In 1595, the mayor, one Jacques de Caverel had obtained permission from Brussels to raise taxes on beer and wine for the construction of the guardhouse on the city marketplace and the monument was inaugurated on November 22, 1600. The building itself is an irregular quadrilateral of 125m square, with 3 facades giving out onto the Grande Place, Rue d'Arras and what was then the Rue des Cuisiniers. The architect, Pierre Framery was inspired by the former Hotel de Ville at Amsterdam. Many restorations have been necessary over the centuries. The Bailliage has undergone various uses: guardhouse, courthouse, Town Hall and police headquarters in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since 1970, it has been the Tourist Office. The large room upstairs is used for exhibitions. The Bailiwick has been classified as an historic monument since 1886.
After the return of Aire to the kingdom of France by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, King Louis XIV gave permission to build a new and more prestigious Town Hall, in recognition of the suffering of the city during the siege of 1710 under Dutch occupation.