Around Damme


Picture: market square of Bruges  

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Abbey of Ter Doest
Castle of Middelburg
Fort of Bavaria


There is something remarkable about Dudzele: the village has 2 church towers.  One church but two towers.  You needn't be an acheologist to see that the tower that stands alone is the older one.  That tower is built in Romanesque style and dates back to the 12th century.  The actual church was only built in 1871; parts of it still originate from the 17th century.   The Romanesque tower was in fact not the real church tower  of Dudzele's old and dissapeared church.  No, he was just one of the corner towers.  It must have been a pretty large church.  She was constructed between 1150 and 1200 and torn down in 1634.  But why did they leave this one tower standing?  In the 16th century the church was plundered; just like most of the villages and towns in Flanders, Dudzele fell pray to the destructive Geuzen (protestant religious warriors).  Besides the entry of the church stands a chapel in Neogothic style in remembrance of the casualties of World War I.

Dudzele is old, in 704 a domain (called Dudece) was given as a gift to the St.-Pieters abbey of Ghent.  Several 'military' constructions stood in the vecinity of the village center such as: Schottencastle, manor Hof van Grammez, the castle of Dudzele, castle Pathoeke and fortress Pathoeke.  There isn't much left of it.  You'd think that foreign armies in the Middle Ages are to blame for this.  Not quite.  Not too far from the center, in the direction of Lissewege, lies a canal: the Boudewijncanal.  This stream connects Bruges with Zeebruges and for the excavations, a large part of Dudzele's territory had to be expropriated.  Pathoeke castle, fortress Pathoeke and a number of farms were in the way and were lost forever...

A number of pretty houses ornament the center of the village such as the old 'smisse' (forge) next to the church.  On the other side of the church you can see a few houses from the 17th century which are called Pronckenburgh, Bona Dies and Priesterage.  The last one stands next to a small park in which you can find the statue of Amaat Vyncke.  
A bit further, on the outskirts of the village stands the Schottenhof.  In the facade stands the number 1639.  This house is a nice example of how people used to build and how villages came into existence in an age when the land was largely inaccessible and inundated regularly.  It stands namely on what is called a 'terp' and is surrounded by a ditch.  A 'terp' is actually a piece of higher land on which the shepherds could safely retreat in case of need (especially when there was a flood).  These 'terps' were lateron connected to eachother by small dikes, which created villages which in their turn were connected again to eachother with small dikes.  'Zele' has the same meaning as 'terp'.  So we could say that Dudzele was the 'terp' of a farmer called Duda.

To reach Dudzele, you only need 5 minutes by car from the center of Damme.  Starting from the market square of Damme, you cross the Damse Vaart and a bit furtheron, you only have to follow the signs.  Don't forget to enjoy the beautiful polder  landscape.  If you continue a bit further, you will end up in Lissewege



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Hendrik De Leyn -