Nieuwpoort is a town in northern Belgium known for its beach and marina. Near a series of locks on the Yser River is the King Albert I Monument, surrounded by columns. Underneath it is the Westfront Nieuwpoort, a visitor center with a projection of a large painting of the 1914 Battle of the Yser.
On the mouth of the IJzer (Yser), Nieuwpoort mixes a historic port with a booming seaside resort.
Fishing continues to be a lifestyle right here, as you’ll uncover on the Vismijn public sale corridor, and the close by Nationwide Fisheries Museum.
On the resort aspect, Nieuwpoort-Unhealthy is rising at excessive pace, and has a grid of multi-storey residence blocks footed by boutiques, cafes and eating places.
Nieuwpoort is on the Belgian coast’s Kusttram system, so you need to use public transport to shoot between the outdated metropolis and the resort in a matter of minutes.
Earlier than it flows into the North Sea, the IJzer River passes by way of an ingenious set of spillways and locks in Nieuwpoort.
Generally known as the Ganzepoot, this 19th-century system was used to flood Nieuwpoort’s backcountry for the whole lot of the First World Conflict.
Things to Do in Nieuwpoort (Belgium)
1. Strand van Nieuwpoort
The seaside in entrance of Nieuwpoort Unhealthy is an countless ribbon of pale sand that merges with Groenindijk Strand a couple of hundred metres to the west.
The seaside is up to 50 metres huge, and when the tide goes out the North Sea retreats for what looks like miles.
Behind the seaside is that big wall of latest residence blocks, fronted by a broad promenade the place folks whizz by on bikes, electrical scooters and Segways.
East of the seaside is the final attain of the IJzer River, and you may stroll or experience alongside the left financial institution to journey between Nieuwpoort correct and the resort.
The promenade right here has a boardwalk with benches and jetties, so you’ll be able to look out on the estuary to see in case you can spot some oystercatchers, curlews, little egrets and little grebes that make their habitat in the IJZermonding nature reserve on the alternative financial institution.
First off, if you would like to know why Nieuwpoort’s fish public sale corridor known as the Vismijn, it’s as a result of earlier than the times of digital bidding bidders would yell “mine” (mijn). Proper on the IJzer in the centre of Nieuwpoort correct, the Vismijn was constructed in 1952 and expanded in the 70s.
The trawlers in Nieuwpoort’s fleet are by no means out to sea for greater than 5 days, and unload their catch for each day wholesale auctions starting at 07:00 or 08:00. You’ll be able to watch these in particular person on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or you might join a guided tour for the within monitor.
This fish and seafood is bought to native fishmongers and eating places, lots of that are based mostly proper in entrance alongside the Kaai.
Two lengthy wood piers constructed in 1865 flank the IJzer River on its approach out to the North Sea.
Each the Westerstaketsel (west) and the Oosterstaketsel (east) have a foghorn and beacon at their tip designed like a little bit lighthouse.
The east pier is a bit longer than the west one, at 543 metres, in contrast to 490. Each might be lined with folks casting fishing rods and are nice if you would like a recent blast of sea air, to watch the seaborne site visitors going previous and gaze again at Nieuwpoort’s beachfront and dunes.
The surroundings is beautiful at sundown, and you may dangle round some time to see Nieuwpoort-Unhealthy lighting up.
Proper by Westfront close to the centre of Nieuwpoort is a classy lock complicated the place six waterways converge.
The Ganzepoot (goose foot) will get its identify from the way it seems to be from above, and is a part of a 19th-century land administration venture to drain the polders round Nieuwpoort and channel that water out to the North Sea by way of the IJzer.
The spillways on the Ganzepoot assist take away surplus water from the polders, whereas the locks keep the water stage for boats.
At excessive water the spillways are blocked after which open once more when the tide goes out.
In 1914 these have been left open on objective, completely flooding the polder and halting the German advance.
The polder would keep underwater for the following 4 years.
5. Westfront Nieuwpoort
The Koning Albert I-Monument was unveiled in 1938, paying tribute to the lately departed Albert I of Belgium (1875-1934), in addition to the Belgian troops in the First World Conflict.
Constructed from the pale bricks of the IJzer plain, this round monument is 25 metre tall and 30 metres in diameter.
On the very prime is a sort of round lintel, 100 metres in circumference, which has walkway and orientation tables.
Beneath, on a brick plinth, in the centre of the circle is an equestrian statue of Albert I by sculptor Karel Aubroeck (1894-1986). In 2014, on the centenary of the start of the First World Conflict the monument was rechristened Westfront Nieuwpoort and a brand new customer centre was unveiled.
Amongst different issues, this remembers the flooding of the Ijzer Plain in 1914.
6. Stadshal met Belfort
The 35-metre belfry on Nieuwpoort’s market sq. belongs to a cross-border UNESCO World Heritage Web site, made up of 56 historic belfries round Belgium and Northern France.
After the unique city corridor and belfry have been dynamited in the First World Conflict, the town took the prospect to recreate the unique Gothic monument constructed in 1280. This can be a stunning constructing, with crocketed pinnacles, nook turrets and little arched recesses alongside the facade.
The belfry, rising from the east facade, has 5 flooring with pairs of slender lancet home windows in a an Early Gothic type.
7. NAVIGO-Nationaal Visserijmuseum
Oostduinkerke, only a stone’s throw from Nieuwpoort, has been residence to Belgium’s Nationwide Fisheries Museum because the 1970s.
This was reworked in the 2000s, and is a multifaceted and interactive attraction, bringing collectively artwork, social historical past, craftsmanship and pure historical past.
You’ll find out in regards to the daring IJslaandvaarders who for hundreds of years made intrepid fishing expeditions up to Icelandic waters and uncover an area custom that persists in Oostduinkerke, the place shrimp fishermen drag their nets on horseback.
The exhibition allows you to step inside a conventional fishing cottage, examine the OD.1 “Martha” inland fishing vessel and think about aquarium tanks presenting the marine lifetime of the North Sea.
From Nieuwpoort-Unhealthy east to the resort of Westende-Unhealthy you’ll be able to stroll or experience by way of a coastal dunescape the place nature has been allowed to take over.
Till not way back this 45-hectare reserve was the location of two campgrounds, and in addition nonetheless has relics from each world wars, together with bunkers from the German Atlantikwall from WWII.
The campgrounds have been cleared in the 2000s and typical dune vegetation, like prickly saltwort, sea spurge and seaside centaury has began to seem.
Orchids are additionally anticipated earlier than lengthy.
The reserve is starting to draw birdlife just like the uncommon crested lark, grasshopper warbler and backyard warbler, in addition to a wide range of butterflies.
For those who’re heading to the Sint-Laureinsduinen by bike, the doorway is at junction (knooppunt) 75.
Probably the prettiest spot in Nieuwpoort correct is the market sq. the place you’ll be able to admire the city corridor and Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk from an outside desk at one of many bars and eating places.
The Marktplein has been restored to its historic look: Each constructing is constructed from pale IJzer bricks and most have crow-stepped gables or dormers.
A weekly market trades on the cobblestones each Friday morning, promoting fruit and greens, minimize flowers, herbs, garments, confectionery, dairy, meat and an ideal deal extra.
In a narrative repeated all through Nieuwpoort, this three-aisled Gothic corridor church was toppled and reconstructed a few instances in the 20th century.
The primary point out of a church right here is from the 12th century, and the constructing standing right here up to the First World Conflict was 15th-century, with a tower accomplished in 1735. That was sadly obliterated, and the identical destiny was in retailer for the following church in 1940. The neo-Gothic reconstruction occurred in 1946, and the separate bell tower was prepared in 1952. Take the prospect to go in to see the portray Slag bij Nieuwpoort in 1600 (Battle of Nieuwpoort), on the south aisle and attributed to Northern Dutch educational painter Louis Moritz (1773-1850). This used to dangle in the city corridor’s council chamber however was moved to the church after the First World Conflict.
11. Nieuwpoort Lighthouse
Out in the dunes on the suitable financial institution of the IJzer at Lombardzijde is Nieuwport’s lighthouse, painted in pink and white bands and emitting two flashes each 14 seconds, with a spread of 16 nautical miles.
Strictly talking, that is extra a landmark than a vacationer attraction, however you may be in its story.
This tower is one in every of a protracted line of beacons for Nieuwpoort, going again at the least so far as the 13th century.
The primary lighthouse on this actual web site was constructed in 1881 however razed in the course of the Battle of the Yser.
Its alternative was erected in 1922 however that was introduced down by the retreating Germans in 1944. The current lighthouse has been right here since 1949 and had a lighthouse keeper till it was automated in 1963.
Laid down in 1868, Spoorlijn 74 was a 15.8-kilometre railway between Nieuwpoort-Unhealthy and the village of Kaaskerke to the south.
Within the First World Conflict the road bought the identify Frontzate (roughly, Entrance Lane) as its embankment was a primary line of defence in the Battle of the Yser, poking above a flooded panorama.
Passenger site visitors ended in the50s, and the road was finally damaged up in the 70s, to be later became a greenway for walkers and cyclists.
The route trails by way of a green polder panorama, and on its edges there are nonetheless a lot of holdovers from the First World War like observations posts, gun positions and bunkers.
The final survivor of Nieuwpoort’s metropolis fortifications from the start of the 19th century is an artillery journal raised between 1818 and 1822. The Bommenvrij was protected as a monument in 1994, as a uncommon piece of Dutch army structure from the interval, and kinds an fascinating pair with ruined Duvetorre (extra under). That is the one constructing that survived the bombardment in 1914 intact, and you may get an excellent look from Schoolstraat.
The Bommenvrij’s brick vaults have been became a dramatic area for artwork studios and exhibitions, though opening instances generally is a little irregular.
To the again of the Bommenvrij, off Willem de Roolaan are the decaying ruins of a tower that has witnessed each part of Nieuwpoort’s historical past because the 13th century.
It was initially the tower for the Church of St Lawrence (1281), destroyed in the 14th century after which became a fort round 1400 by Philip the Daring, Duke of Burgundy.
Within the 16th century this was a billet for Spanish forces, after which in the Dutch interval in the early 19th century it was became a watchtower for his or her fortifications.
In 1916 the constructing was hit by German shells and now stands in ruins as a monument.
The identify, Duvetorre (Satan Tower) is supposedly a connection to Jeanne Panne (1593-1650), an unlucky Nieuwpoort baker’s spouse, executed on the stake for witchcraft.
15. Sunparks Oostduinkerke aan Zee
For those who catch some inclement climate or need to bathe someplace out of the breeze, this vacation resort 5 minutes from the centre of Nieuwpoort has a pool complicated beneath an enormous glass roof.
You should purchase a day cross, which provides you with entry to the pool constructing, known as Aquafun.
This homes a subtropical pool, a wave pool, a lazy river and a wide range of slides just like the Black Gap.
Grownups could have their eyes on the relief space, West Coast Wellness, which affords a peaceable outside pool, a sauna, baths and selection of massages.