Picture: the mighty tower of the Saint-Quintens church of Oostkerke.    

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Village centre

Most beautiful village of West-Flanders?

Oostkerke undoubtedly is one of the most beautiful villages in the province, and yes even of entire Flanders.  In 1974 it effectively was elected as most beautiful village in West-Flanders and in 2008 it was selected as one of the 50 nicest villages in Flanders.  The best evidence is to check it out yourself.  We kindly invite the non-believers; not many words will be needed... 

The village centre is small and the white, chalked old houses make it very cosy. AT a stone's throw lay the castle and two windmills.  The meandering Krinkeldijk, between Oostkerke and Hoeke, is one of the finest countryside roads. The Napoleoncanal (Damse Vaart), the Leopoldcanal and the Schipdonkcanal are also very nearby.  Cycling routes alongside the canals give you the opportunity to enjoy in an active way the beauty of these streams to their full extend. 

Fixed events
Poldertriathlon in May, village fair in July.

On this place, one of the first church communities of the region was founded.  Other settlements (such as Damme, Moerkerke, Westkapelle, Lapscheure,...) fell in their early days under authority of the church of Oostkerke

According to the legend, the village has to thank its existence to Saint Guthago.   He had Scottisch (or Irish) royal blood and lived in the 7th (or, according to other sources in the 9th) century.  He preferred to live in Flanders as a pilgrim and was burried in Oostkerke.  A chapel was erected after miracles took place at his grave.  In 1159, the relics of his body were place in a shrine by the bishop of Tournai

The tower of the church possibly served as lighthouse for the sailors.  On the cemetary itself there still should be some graves out of the 14th and 15th century.  Just like most other villages in the polders, Oostkerke was also hit by floods.  Not only nature, but also man has provided for its fair share of destruction and grief.  Geuzen (protestant religious fighters) and foreign armies plundered, claimed food and life-stock, pierced dikes, etc...  The last destruction on grand scale took place at the end of the 2nd World War.  Heavy firing and the inundation of the area caused a lot of casualties.  The piece de resistance (ironically speaking of course) was undoubtedly the blowing up of the churchtower by retreating German soldiers.  2500 kg of dynamite made the tower collapse and destroyed almost the entire building.  After the war, the church was rebuilt in its original state

No polder village without a harbour.  Oostkerke also had his own port, named Monnikenrede.  Don't look for it, this harbour has in the meanwhile dissapeared under the ground (and under the Damse Vaart).  Thank you, Napoleon...

» Damme
» Den Hoorn
» Hoeke
» Lapscheure
» Moerkerke
» Oostkerke
» Sijsele
» Vivenkapelle


© Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com

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