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Hasselt is a Belgian city and municipality, and capital of the Flemish province of Limburg (equivalent to the medieval County of Loon or Looz). The Hasselt municipality includes the original city of Hasselt, plus the old communes of Sint-Lambrechts-Herk, Wimmertingen, Kermt, Spalbeek, Kuringen, Stokrooie, Stevoort and Runkst, as well as the hamlets and parishes of Kiewit, Godsheide and Rapertingen.
On 31 December 2007 Hasselt had a total population of 71 520 (34 951 men and 36 569 women). Both the Demer river and the Albert Canal run through the municipality. Hasselt is located in between the Campine region, north of the Demer, and the Hesbaye region, south of it (Dutch Kempen and Haspengouw). It is also in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.
The centre is mostly car-free and contains a number of historical buildings. Among the oldest buildings in the town centre are the St. Quentin’s Cathedral (11th to 18th centuries) and the “Herkenrode Abbey refuge house” (1542). The “Grote Markt” (large central market square) and the nearby streets are lined with pubs, restaurants and taverns.
The Demerstraat and the Koning Albertstraat are the most important shopping streets. In the Kapelstraat and the Hoogstraat are expensive shops with the most famous brands. Another major religious building, besides the cathedral, is the Virga Jesse Basilica. The churches must cede domination of the skyline of the city to the modern twin towers of the “TT-wijk”, however. In 2003, the renovation of this complex, now including a shopping mall and a hotel, gave the centre a new boost. In 2004, Hasselt was the first Flemish city to receive the title “most sociable city of Flanders”, and has since claimed the title of “Capital City of Taste”.