Picture: market square of Bruges
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The name "Coolkercke" was mentioned for the first time in 1243, but the village already existed a while before. This settlement came into existence in the 12th century on the place where the road to the abbey of Ter Doest crossed the Soete Vaart. At the highest point, around 1150, the first church was built. The present church is a protected monument and dates back to 1860, with parts out of the 14th century.
Where does the name "Koolskerke" originate from? The highest place where the church was built was called "Kool" or "Ten Kole". The patron saint of the church was St.-Niklaas (St.-Nicolas), also called "St.-Kool". But, couldn't there be another explanation? This village was namely founded by a certain Nicolaas Gaillaerd, who also ordered the construction of the church. The village was at first known as "Cool-Gailliaerds kercke" (so, the "church of Nicolaas Gaillaerd", because Cool has the same meaning as Nicolas), lateron this name changed into Coolkercke and Koolkerke. The fact that the patron saint was St.-Nicolas maybee is a sign of medieval modesty of the founder. Let's leave this one to the experts.
Opposite the church's entrance stands the 19th century presbytery, somewhat further down the road stands an old farm with the year 1673 on the facade. On the main road to Bruges, on your right hand, you can see another old farm. On the other side of that road lies the fortress of Bavaria.
Koolkerke is situated at about 5 km from Damme, in the direction of Bruges, on the westside of the Damse Vaart. The fortress of Bavaria (fort van Beieren) is situated between the Damse Vaart and the church of Koolkerke.
Worth seeing: church, presbytery, some old farms, fortress of Bavaria
© Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com