Torhout's greatest era was the 12th century, when it was a teeming metropolis with an active mercantile fair, where textiles, the town's primary industrial output at the time, were traded. It is now a commune of 19,000, with a number of historical buildings and museums of interest. There are several castles: Aertrycke, Ravenhof, and Wynendale among them. Wynendale was the residence for many of the Counts of Flanders, and houses both a museum on the history of the castle and a museum on the history of cheese. The town hall, built in the early 18th century, is in the classical style.
Torhout is located 15 kilometers southwest of Brugge.
Aartrijke (Aertrycke), is a borough within the municipal district of Torhout.