Thinking of visiting Dendermonde during your gap year? Great choice! With its restored belfry, beautiful beguinage, ancient giants and legendary Bayard Steed, the city of Dendermonde features four times on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The perfect getaway
Situated in-between the capital and several major cities (Ghent, Mechelen, Antwerp…), hikers and cyclists appreciate Dendermonde’s location at the confluence of the Scheldt and Dender rivers and its lush countryside.
Three biking/hiking tips
- Stop over at the artists’ village of Vlassenbroek.
- Pass by picturesque Mespelare.
- Ferry across the Scheldt river (for free!).
All burnt calories can easily be replaced by delicious local specialities, such as ‘peperkoek’ (gingercake), Vicaris beer or ‘kopvlees’ (beef aspic).
Throughout the summer, the city centre is buzzing with activities, performances, food stands and festivals.
If that’s not your cup of tea, then go see a mammoth from the Ice Age in The Butchers’ Hall museum (it’s free).
Or, swing by the Honky Tonk Jazz Club or the Flanders’ Jazz Centre, where stars like Ray Charles and B.B. King performed. Not feeling groovy? Cross the street to attend a (theatre) performance at the Cultural Centre Belgica. The options are endless. But if you’re short on time, don’t worry! The restored carillon chimes pitch-perfect tunes several times a day so you can’t miss out on local culture.
Not convinced yet? Here are five intriguing art facts about Dendermonde.
- The town hall doubles as an Art Museum.
- The Church of Our Lady displays two paintings of Antony Van Dyck, the 17th-century Flemish master.
- Besides churches, Dendermonde also has a beautiful basilica.
- Manuela Roth selected the public library as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world in her book, Masterpieces. No surprise, as it’s designed by renowned architect collective ‘BOB361’.
- The marketplace, the heart of town, is known as one of the most attractive squares in Flanders (see picture above).
After doing all of that, you can chill out in the local movie theatre or enjoy a guided tour in the local brewery.
Proud of its parades
Whatever your reasons for visiting Dendermonde, you can’t miss out on the parades.
Katuit, the annual Giants’ Parade, originated in the Middle Ages. It revolves around three giants (17th century) and celebrates Dendermonde’s folkloristic heritage. It’s an exciting night filled with music and theatricals that ends with fireworks and a party on the marketplace in front of the beautiful city hall.
Since 1461, the Bayard Steed marches through the streets of Dendermonde with four brothers on its back. Honouring the ancient tale of the ‘Children of Aymon’. This UNESCO World Heritage event is jam-packed with theatrics, music, animation, re-enactments and contemporary performances. The tens of thousands of spectators are entertained by acrobats and stilt-walkers whilst 20 horse-drawn floats with special effects pass by. The night ends on a high note with fireworks and a party on the marketplace in front of city hall.
Attend the Bayard Steed Parade on 24 May 2020 #Savethedate.
This article was in partnership with Toerisme Dendermonde
Featured image: © Historisch Documentatiecentrum Dendermonde