Heritage

Visit our finest heritage sites

Since 2006, people who love the coast and who have an interest in heritage sites are able to discover a number of forgotten architectural treasures and some hidden, charming corners by completing any of the 10 mapped out heritage walks, one for each coastal town, from De Panne to Knokke-Heist. Each heritage walk tells a story of estates, streets, buildings and decorative facades. These walking routes combine the most important heritage sites along the coast.
Walking maps are available for purchase at €1.5 each from the Tourist Information Centre of any coastal town. Also available from the Provincial Information Centre ‘Tolhuis’ in Bruges (Phone 0800/20 021 - provincie@west-vlaanderen.be) and from Westtoer (Phone 050 30 55 00 – info@westtoer.be). Available online via www.fietsen-wandelen.be.

Below, you will find a brief overview of some of the best heritage sites at our coast:

The Dumont Quarter in De Panne
The architecturally interesting and classified Dumont Quarter invokes a typical cottage feel but at the same time maintains a very regional character because of its brick architecture. The entire quarter refers to bygone holiday eras from the 19th-20th centuries. The beautifully restored Leopold I esplanade is a reminder of the first footsteps of King Leopold I on Belgian soil. His inauguration as the first king is honoured by the statue on the square. The nearby Royal Chapel is another reminder of the strong bond between De Panne and the royal family.

Villa estates in Sint-Idesbald and Koksijde
The reason why Delvaux once chose Sint-Idesbald as his holiday destination has everything to do with the artistic atmosphere found in this town at the time. The villa estates in Sint-Idesbald and Koksijde are still reminiscent of this atmosphere today.
    
The Rotunda in Westende
This building with its striking round shape located on the sea embankment of Westende opened its doors as a hotel in June 1911. During the interbellum period, many members of the royal family spent their holidays right here. The building was fully renovated in 1999 and is now protected and listed as a National Heritage site.
Remember to visit the ‘Kusthistories’, an interactive museum on the history of coastal tourism, and villa ‘Les Zéphyrs’, where you can discover how a family would have spent the summer holidays on the Belgian coast in the 1930s.

Royal and Venetian Galleries in Ostend
The Galleries were designed at the request of King Leopold II in 1900. The covered walkway of almost 400 meters was constructed in 1905 at the edge of the beach to connect the royal villa to the Wellington racecourse. It served to protect guests against the sun, rain and wind.  

The Concession District in De Haan
This Anglo-Norman villa estate north of the tram line was once a large dune area that was leased out to private owners in 1889 in order to establish a romantic Belle Époque estate. German urbanist Joseph Stübben designed the image of the town of De Haan: a ‘green’ villa estate with its own architecture and no high-rise buildings. The classified tram station and the villa estate north of the tram line are true examples of the Anglo-Norman craftsmanship typically found in Belle Époque architecture along our coast.

Belle Époque Centre in Blankenberge
In Blankenberge, many remnants of the Belle Époque period have been kept intact, such as the typical houses with loggia and exquisite art nouveau tile decoration. Three villas have been renovated and transformed into visitors centres.
A visit to the Blankenberge Pier and the Paravang is also a must!