Picture: market square of Bruges
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East of Moerkerke and Den Hoorn, lies the largest municipality of East-Flanders (when it comes to number square km that is). Untill the 13th century Maldegem's territory still largely consisted of swamps and woods. From medio 14th century on, anual fairs took place here, a privilege given to the village by count Louis of Male (see Male). The manor Maldegem stood under the authority of 'het Brugse Vrije'. Maldegem is often called 'the faithful'. This good name the community owes to the bravery and loyalty of its knights to the count of Flanders. Philips of Maldegem fought on the side of Guy of Dampierre against Filips (the king of France), was captured and his castle was burnt down. Walter of Maldegem accompanied the count when he got caught by the French. Nevertheless, not all the knights were that loyal: Eustache of Maldegem chose the side of the French! Eventually he saw that he was wrong and fought on Flemish side on the Groeningefield (Battle of the Golden Spurs 1302).
Centrally on the market square stands the municipal hall. This building was only raised in 1907-1909. In the tower hangs a carillon with 18 bells. Besides the little river "Eede" lies the St.-Anna park. The house at the entrance of this park, is called the castle of St.-Anna. In the 13th century, this building served as a hospital.
The church of St.-Barbara was built in 1074. The tower still dates back to the 11th century, the choir to the 15th century. The building was destructed in 1578 and rebuilt in 1778-1779. On the right hand side of the small road that leads to the church, stands the old "Schepenhuis" (house of magistrates) which was built in 1525. In front of this house used to be a pillory. Not far from the church still stands a small castle from the 16th century, which is called "Het Kasteeltje".
Reesinghe castle is situated just outside the center. The present manor was raised in 1858 on the place where used to be the stronghold of the lords of Maldegem. At that moment, the stronghold was nothing more than a ruin. First there used to be a fortified farm that was built on a small hill, surrounded by a wall. In the course of time, the farm became a genuine castle.
Maldegem's most known attraction is the Steamcenter. This center consists of a touristic railway Maldegem-Eeklo, a small track Maldegem-Donk and the station of Maldegem. In that station (1862) you can admire the old steam train, steam rollers, ... It is open from May till September.
The most recent attraction we found on the banks of the river "Eede": a Belgian army tank. How to find it? Expressway Antwerpen-Knokke (N49), exit center (Noordstraat) and then at the first crossing to the right.
Worth seeing: steam center, church
© Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com