Our Ladies church of Damme is lovely and well worth a visit. The tower is not always open and when it is, there is a small charge to climb. However, the view from the top is amazing so if it is open when you are there, pay the tiny fee and climb up with your camera and enjoy it.
It is a flat-topped tower and these are unusual except in the polder where there seem to be quite a few. There are some 13th century carved apostles inside that you should not miss along with the Cross of Miracles.
Damme is small and picturesque with a canal going along the edge of town and a windmill across the canal from the road. The windmill doesn't seem to have its sails up every day, but we saw them on a Sunday and they were bright red so very dramatic. It is picture perfect.
There are several restaurants, lots of galleries, a wonderful French patisserie, an excellent deli that isn't open every day but when it is, it's a great place to get picnic supplies.
There are lots of shops and a church with a tower that can be climbed for magnificent views.
You can also catch a canal boat to Brugge from Damme. It's great fun and a wonderful boat trip even if you don't exit at Brugge and just return to Damme.
This is a paddle-boat that plies the canal between Damme and Brugge. It is a 35-minute trip on a lovely canal past the famous windmill. We saw all kinds of birds including ducks and heron on the short trip.
There is free parking in Damme about a 5-minute walk from the boat. You pay on the boat. Then you arrive in Brugge not terribly far from the center of town. It's about 2.5 kilometers and you can walk through the beautiful city along the canals or you can walk a couple blocks to a bus stop and take the bus into town. We walked and loved it. There are maps posted along the way so you don't get lost.
It's a great way to visit Brugge, take a fun boat ride and spend some time in the lovely historic village of Damme. Highly recommended.
Lots of the charm of Damme comes from its surroundings, the endless lines of poplars planted alongside the roads or canals of this area. While they must be beautiful in summer, too, we found them almost mystical in wintertime. With a few snowflakes falling and the wind howling, the weather was everything but nice, but still we braved the storm to take pictures of this exceptionally beautiful landscape. Others, however, were even cycling or walking on the paths next to the canals. It's definitely worth it, if you have the right clothes.
Damme calls itself the "book village" (Boekendorp). Perhaps this love of books is due to the fact that Till Eulenspiegel (Tijl Uilenspiegel in Dutch) is said to have been born here. He is actually a German folklore figure from the Middle Ages, but has been made popular in Belgium by Charles de Coster who rewrote his story and made Uilenspiegel a freedom fighter against Spanish oppression. The Flamish Movement, fighting for strengthening Flamish culture in the time that de Coster published his book, took a fancy to this hero and made him even more popular. In Damme, this is visible by the word Uilenspiegel as part of a lot of shop names, bar names, B&B names etc. Moreover, there is a little Uilenspiegel monument near the village bridge. But Damme today is indeed a book village. There are a lot of bookshops in the village, literally one on every street. Browse through their range of books if you want to find out more about Uilenspiegel.
This daytrip reminded me at a picture of Piet Breughel sr (Belgian painter- 16th century)
It was january the 9th-2009 - The mayors of Bruges/Damme/Sluis gave permission to skate on the canal between the cities. It was more than 10 years ago this winter event was officialy permitted. More than 50.000 people enjoyed the track between the cities.
The Church of Our Lady.
There's been a church here since at least 1180, but what you can see today gives a clear indication of how the once wealthy and important Damme declined over the centuries.
The original church (13th century) was huge.....its tower and external walls still remain. But as the population (and wealth) grew less, it was simply too big to maintain, and a much smaller church was created within the existing building. That's the one you can visit today.
The existing church contains several interesting religious artefacts (some Medieval, but most from 16th-18th centuries), and is rather a pretty place. There is a good explanatory leaflet available in several languages.
You can also climb the original tower, which apparently gives excellent views over the surrounding countryside. It costs 1 euro to do so.
On the other side of the River Zwin from Damme village atands an absolutely classic white windmill.
It really does make a pretty sight, especially when the weather is sunny and the water calm enough to give a clear reflection.
It also makes you realise how close you are to the Netherlands: windmills, canals, flat fields, polders......
There's been a windmill on that spot since at least the 1200s, but the one you can see now dates from 1867. It is open to the public, but you'll have to contact the tourist Office to fins out when (see weblink).
Charles De Coster wrote the novel “La légende d’Ulenspiegel 1867, in french
It is telling the story of Tyl, Nele and Lamme Goedzak. The three are crossing the dutch country, and in every place they stop, something strange/funny happens.
Often they turn the world upside down, and many times Tyl showed the world in his famous and wellknown mirror, saying : this is how the real world looks like.
Walking/strolling on the roads next to the canal
In the 13th century, Damme was the port for Bruges, linked by the river Reie. The river has now been canalised into the long, straight, treelined and picturesque Damse Vaart,
More than 300 kind of goods were imported via Damme. I's importance? Mentioning that Damme had the staple rights on wine from Bordeaux and on herring, which even came from Sweden.
Due to it's rich history and many things worth seeing, Damme is nowadays a popular touristic center. Popular, but fortunately not too crowdy ( outern season period). Till far over our borders, Damme is renowned for it's cuisine and since a few years it is also known as a place where you can buy lots of old (and new) books.
The most famous mill ( Schellemolen ) in Damme - next to the canal - it is possible to go by boat - direction vice versa Brugge - the capital of West-Flanders
The Saint-John’s hospital was founded in the first half of the 13th century. Augustine nuns and friars looked after the sick and the poor of the area, as well as providing a place for pilgrims and other travellers to stay for the night.
Since the 19th century, the house is an old people’s home while the central building has been turned into a museum. This is the oldest part, holding over 500 exhibits of furniture, paintings, silverware, documents and books from the convent library. They give an idea of the function of this old hospital and how it changed through the centuries.
Kerkstraat- Damme. Town hall, Court of justice, High Gothic, gargouille, baldachin (canopy), stepped gable, statues as an ornament, sun clock, sun calendar, tabernacle, clockwork, bell. The town hall remains as a token of the earlier economic strength of Damme. Built in 1464-68 by Gottfried de Bosschere, it is an excellent example of late Gothic architecture.
The most famous structure in town may be the Damme Church, Onze Lieve Vrouw, the tower of which is about three times taller that anything else in town. You can climb up and get fantastic views of the countryside.
A statue of the artist Charles Delporte - located in the garden of the "Onze Lieve Vrouwe Church is an inspiring piece of art
Delporte himself has already a museum in Damme.
Damme - located in west flanders and in the shadow of the wellknown capital Brugge. Connected via the "Canal' which was so important for the im/export in the middle-ages
Today the little town is known as the "village of books", the Uylenspiegel and Delporte museum.
And not to forget, an excellent place for wanderers and bikers. Bikes can be rented. Many restaurants and coffee shops are offering good local food (pancakes) at reasonable prices.