"Very pretty place, Damme." Top 5 Page for this destination Damme by leics

Damme Travel Guide: 104 reviews and 267 photos

At 7 km away from Bruges, a short bus or paddle-boat ride, Damme is an easy and worthwhile daytrip.

Although a pretty little village now, it was once a very important and wealthy place: the main seaport for Bruges in Medieval times. At once time ten thousand people lived there, merchants and seamen and traders and their families. the Medieval church (see further on) gives an indication of just how important and wealthy a place it once was.

But by the end of the fifteenth century the river Zwin had become unnavigable; it simply silted up. So Damme stopped being important and wealthy, and gradually became what it is today....a really nice place to spenbd a few wandering hours, and a very popular base for many cycling visitors.

When I visited the place was full of cyclists: some coming out from Bruges along the towpath (a nice flat ride), some unloading bikes from campervans and trailers, some on guided daytours, some obviously on serious cycling holidays with small suitcases on their carriers. So, like many places I've been to, it pays to make an early-ish start in season, and to get there before the visitor numbers start to build up.

Apart from the classic postcard view of Schellemolen above, Damme has some interesting historical buildings.

The Medieval Stadhuis (Town Hall) isn't usually open to the public, but you can look at the carvings and statuary outside, and listen to its rather pretty carillon (see video). If you are there in summer, you can also watch the swallows/martins/swifts whizzing in and out of their nests under its eaves.

There's a museum about Ulenspiegel, a folk figure of Flanders who originated in Germany.

And there's another little museum with local bits and pieces.

I did not go into either museum.

Instead, I spent quite some time exploring the church (which is, is a way, two churches) and then wandered off on a ten-minute canalside walk. It really is very pleasant, gentle countryside round Damme: I can imagine thoroughly enjoying exploring it on a bike.

Damme also has rather a lot of restaurants, many of which are good (apparently). I only had a beer, so I can't pass comment.

But it's the church which really drew me to make the journey to Damme

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk is a massive church built in the 13th century (a church has stood there since 1180), to reflect the wealth and importance of its citizens. But just as the village has shrunk, so has the church. Much of it was abandoned, and now a much smaller version functions as a place of worship.

Inside the existing church are several interesting bits and pieces, including 13th century 'keystones' (wooden carvings which were originally part of the roof) and some wonderful 13th century carvings of the Apostles. Placed high up in the roof (and originally painted), the carvings escaped destruction during the religious troubles of the 16th century and are possibly the oldest such statues in Belgium. Other religious artefacts on show date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

You can climb the old church tower for excellent views across the polders. I tried, but decided not to as the open-tread spiral staircase was just a little bit too narrow, precipitous and, frankly, scary for me (I'm not usually a wimp).

Damme really is a very pretty place, clearly a sought-after commuter village for Bruges (maybe even for Brussels?). Lots of very well-maintained properties, lots of nice cars parked on driveways and in garages. I imagine it must be a most pleasant place to live, especially when alll the cyclists have moved on!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Very pretty
  • Cons:None I came across
  • In a nutshell:Well worth a visit..by bus, or bike, or boat or feet.
  • Last visit to Damme: Jul 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (4)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    Damme looks bright and very special....I would appreciate visiting it some day....

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    I think I will visit Damme next month. Ciao!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    Lovely pages about Damme. The quiet walk photos were so excellent. Loved the statue with 3 women's faces.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2008 at 1:05 PM

    Oh, you are quick, girl!! I love these 2 statues "will you marry me" and ahh, windmills, somehow I need a sight like this soon, it is quite noisy here as well. Smiles and evening hugs :-))


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