Top Historic Sights in Dendermonde, Belgium

Explore the historic highlights of Dendermonde

Church of Our Lady

The Church of our Holy Lady, a fine example of Scheldt gothic, houses a number of important art objects: paintings by Antony Van Dyck and Gaspard De Craeyer among others, a skilfully sculptured pulpit, a marble high altar and several worthwhile mural paintings. The showpiece is a romanesque baptismal font in blue stone of Tournai (11th century). The original romanesque church was replaced by a gothic one in the shape of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Dendermonde Town Hall

The former Cloth Hall on the Dendermonde Market Square is a jewel of Flemish medieval architecture. The Town Hall is especially colourful during the summer months, when it is embellished with heraldic flags and flower baskets. The Belfry, Unesco World Heritage since 1999, has housed a carillon since 1548, complete according to the Mechelen Standard with 49 bells, of 6800 kgs total weight. You will appreciate the magnifi ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

St. Alex Beguinage

The St. Alex beguinage (1288) consists of 61 houses built around a trapezoidal courtyard surrounding a small church. The beguinage is an island of tranquillity in the heart of town. Similarly to the Belfry, the St. Alex beguinage has been proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage in 1998. To keep the memory of the beguines alive, one small house (nr.11 H. Bonifacius) has been furnished as an authentic beguine"s home. In 197 ...
Founded: 1288 | Location: Dendermonde, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.

The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.

The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.