Picture: Schellemill at the Damse Vaart in Damme.  

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Bruges Gate
Farm Saint Christopher
Farm the "Stamper"
House Saint John
Damme town hall
Saint-John's hospital
Medieval waterwell
Lock of the Lieve
Statue J.Van Maerlant
Damme town walls
NR Damme town walls
Damse Vaart
Bat reserve
Damme book village
Museum St-John's hospital
Museum town hall
Museum Schellemill

Hoeke church
Lapscheure church
Vivenkapelle church
Ruins old church Lapscheure


Our Ladies church of Damme

Location: Kerkstraat, 8340 Damme [gps]
Accessibility: freely accessible (limited opening hours; please see Tourism Office)

The tower of the church of Damme reigns over the polderlandscape.  The church is one of the most known monuments of the medieval town; this is largely due to her flat tower.  Churches with flat towers are unique and can practically exclusively be seen in the polders.  Also the churches of Lissewege, Oostkerke and St.-Anna Ter Muyden have such a flat tower.

Shortly after Damme was founded, there already was a temporary chapel, which depended on the church of Oostkerke, which is older than Damme.   In 1225, the construction of the present church commenced (and then the tower did have pointed little cornertowers!).  The town was prosperous, grew very fast and soon the church was too small.  In 1340, she was then enlarged.  In 1578, Geuzen (protestant religious warriors) plundered the church, after which she was restored between 1621 and 1626.  However, prosperity didn't last.  Depopulation made the church now too big and the invoice for the maintenance too high.  In 1704, the first talks commence regarding the pulling down of a part of the church.  Eventually in 1725, the High Council of Mechlin gives her permission for the demolition.  The part between the tower and what is now the church, was pulled down;  only the round arches had to remain to support the tower.  Also the decayed pointy tower was removed.    The recuperated materials were then sold.

The interior is worth a detour and contains a treasure of rare pieces.  The big pride of the church are without any doubt the 13th century (!) wooden statues of the apostles.  It may be considered as a miracle that they survived the religious troubles of the 16th century.  In the middle of the cross altar stands that cross of miracles; according to the legend, this cross was fished up out of the sea by fishermen, who then brought it to the church.  This cross is carried in the annual Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges.  Further there are fragments of 14th century wall-paintings , a baroque confessional (17th century, coming from the St.-Donaascathedral of Bruges which was torn down by the French in 1801), the chapel of the Holy Sacrament (1485), the altar of Saint-Anna (16th century) and other altars and much much more.  No better way then to go and discover it for yourselves.  For the amateurs: there are also still a number of very old tombstones (who looks, finds...) in the church.  The oldest tomb from Damme (1294) was kept in the Bijlokemuseum in Ghent.  But, appearantly it dissapeared from there without any trace... Would the one who has the tombstone now, please return it?  We won't be mad.  For a detailled description of all the beautiful artefacts and relics in and outside, you'd best appeal to an experienced guide.

Church and tower are a protected monument and are open to the public.  Only the church is accessible to wheelchair users.  The one who likes a firm climb, definitely has to visit the tower.  From the top, you have a splendid view on the town, the defence walls, and the wide landscape around. 


 Den Hoorn



Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com

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