Picture: blue heron in the canal not far from where Monnikenrede once was.    

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Canal "Damse Vaart"

Monnikenrede and Saint-Catherine-outside-Damme
Places that have disappeared.

Everywhere in the continent there are villages and hamlets that dissapeared and ended up forgotten in the course of time...  It's no different in Damme.  The difference is that here a genuine town dissapeared under the sand: Monnikenrede.  Together with St.-Katharina-Buiten-Damme (Saint-Catherine-outside-Damme), this is probably the most notorious piece of vanished heritage.

Together with Bruges, Damme, Hoeke, Muyden and Sluis, Monnikenrede was one of the six Zwincities.  Six once very prosperous towns at only a few km from eachother.  The towns of Hoeke and Muyden have decayed and are now small villages., Monnikenrede waited a more tragic fate.  It was the harbour of Oostkerke and was founded in the beginning of the 13th century.  Already in 1266, a college of magistrates was established and the young town received certain privileges on the trade in the Zwin estuary.  After the fast economic growth, came also the decay.  At the end of the 16th century, the economic situation was so bad, that in 1594, Philips II merged the towns of Hoeke, Damme and Monnikenrede.  A new weapon was created, incorporating the individual weapons of the three towns.  In 1813, the curtain fell for Monnikenrede.  The canal Bruges-Sluis (Damse Vaart) was dug straight through the town (or what was still left of it).  What does remain nowadays of the town?  Nothing but a memory...  Extra note: during excavations in 1982, prehistoric and roman objects were found here.

Sint-Katharina-Buiten-Damme (Saint-Catherine-outside-Damme) was situated just outside Damme, in the direction of Vivenkapelle.  The Catharinachurch was built in the 13th century and probably a town expansion was planned on this place.  Due to the silting up of the Zwinbay, other (economically more interesting) grounds closer to the port of Damme became available.  When the first defence walls around Damme were erected, a wall was also built around Sint-Katharina.  In 1578, the church was destroyed by the Geuzen (protestant religious fighters).  On the parish there also was a stronghold and a farm (Bonem farm).   The castle must have been built before 1300.  All that rests of what once was the parish Sint-Katharina-Buiten-Damme, is the Bonem farm.

 Den Hoorn








Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com