Church of Saint Martin
|o Mayor||Wim Dries (CD&V)|
|o Governing party/ies||CD&V|
|o Total||87.85 km2 (33.92 sq mi)|
|o Density||750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
Genk (Dutch pronunciation: [k]) is a town and municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg near Hasselt. The municipality only comprises the town of Genk itself. It is one of the most important industrial towns in Flanders, located on the Albert Canal, between Antwerp and Liège.
Genk probably originated as a Celtic village, and was converted to Christianity in the 10th century. The remains of a little wooden church dating from that period were found in the area. The first mention of Genk as Geneche can be found in a document dating from 1108, ceding the territory to the Abbey of Rolduc. Politically, Genk belonged to the County of Loon until it was annexed by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège in 1365.
During a century of on-going industrialisation further south in Belgium, Limburg modernised only slowly: Genk remained unimportant and small, growing slowly to a population of 2,000 around 1900. The peaceful village was the home of landscape painters and writers such as Neel Doff.
In 1901, André Dumont found a large quantity of coal in the nearby village of As. Soon after, the "Black Gold" was also found in Genk. After World War I, the village started to attract a large quantity of both Belgian and foreign immigrants, and quickly became the biggest town in Limburg after Hasselt, peaking to a population of 70 000. However, in 1966 the coal mine of Zwartberg closed down, and Genk had to develop new industries, mainly along the Albert Canal and highways. By the end of the 1980s, the two remaining coal mines at Winterslag and Waterschei were also closed.
In 2000, Genk officially became a city.
Genk is the industrial centre of the province of Limburg and offers over 45,000 jobs, making it economically the third most significant city in Flanders.
In 1900, Genk was a quiet village with around 2,000 residents. At that time, Genk was known for its natural environment, popular among artists and painters who used Genk as a setting for their pieces. In 1901, coal was discovered in Genk and three mining sites were developed: Zwartberg, Waterschei and Winterslag (C-mine today). As a result, the population grew exponentially: today Genk has about 65,000 inhabitants with 107 different ethnic backgrounds. The mines had some good years, but in 1966 the Zwartberg mine closed, followed by Winterslag (C-mine today) in 1986 and Waterschei in 1987.
The Genk Body & Assembly factory of Ford Motor Company was the largest and most important employer in Genk until recently, employing some 5,000 people and building the Mondeo sedan and hatchback, the Galaxy (second generation, from 2006 and onwards) MPV/minivan, and the S-MAX sub-MPV. The factory closed in 2014.
The city went looking for new opportunities for the enormous mine sites on its territory, including the Winterslag site. In 2000, the idea began to grow to accommodate a creative hub in the buildings of the old coal mine of Winterslag. In 2001, the city of Genk bought the site from LRM (Limburgse Reconversie Maatschappij) and the name "C-mine" was born in 2005. As regards content, the creative hub works on four cornerstones: education, creative economy, creative recreation and artistic creation and presentation. With a university college specialised in various artistic graduation subjects, an incubator for young entrepreneurs, a cultural centre, a design centre, a cinema, C-mine expedition, etc. the C-mine mission has succeeded. It has created 330 jobs in 42 companies and organisations, including around 200 jobs in the creative sector in 33 creative companies.
Each day, C-mine produces: games, apps, websites, sets for television, drones, light shows, design items, stage productions, etc. C-mine is a site of creative makers in each of the four segments.
Genk's major football club, KRC Genk, promoted from the second division in 1996 and quickly became one of Belgium's top clubs. They finished first in the highest football league in 1999, 2002, 2011 and 2019 and won the Belgian Cup in 1998, 2000, 2009 and 2013. Because of this success, the Luminus Arena (formerly known as Fenix Stadium and Cristal Arena) of KRC Genk (place for 25 500 supporters) has become an important centre of both sport and non-sport activities in recent years. In the 2016-17 season Genk.reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League by defeating fellow Belgian side K.A.A. Gent over two legs, one of which was a 5-2 win.