Nieuwpoort Tourist Attractions
The town of Nieuwpoort (French Nieuport) lies on the IJzer 3km/2miles from where it flows into the North Sea. It is divided into Nieuwpoort Bad and Nieuwpoort Stad lying a little further inland, and is an important fishing port as well as the location of a fish processing industry.
Other firms specialize in metalworking and chemicals which play an important part in the economy. The importance of tourism, which is concentrated in Nieuwpoort Bad, can be seen from the extensive yacht harbor, one of the largest in the North Sea. Its capacity is to be increased to 2600 moorings. In the 12th C. when the IJzer had altered its course, Nieuwpoort was founded by Count Philip of Flanders as a fortified new harbor ("Nieuwpoort") for Ypres in place of Lombardsijde and in the course of time suffered seven sieges. In 1383 it was completely destroyed by the English. In July 1600 Mortiz of Orange defeated the Spanish on the dunes between Nieuwpoort and Middelkerke, but this victory was of minor importance in the War of Independence of the Netherlands. In the First World War Nieuwpoort formed the key to the position on the IJzer to which the Allied armies withdrew. On October 29, 1914 the sluices on the IJzer were opened and the polders were flooded in order the prevent the advance of the German troops. However that did not prevent Nieuwpoort being almost completely destroyed in 1918. After the war the town was rebuilt according to the old plans.
Boat Excursions on the IJzer
Nieuwpoort Stad is a tranquil place and an attractive picture is presented by its extensive Grote Markt with its belfry, an old Renaissance house (rebuilt 1924; containing a small ornithological museum) and the corn hall, originally Late-Gothic of 1218 and rebuilt in 1923. The first story of the hall houses the interesting K.R. Berquin Museum of History and Local History, in which can be seen among other things two views of Nieuwpoort which are attributed to Lancelot Blondeel.The tower is a UNESCO site.
Behind the town hall stands the Onze-Lieve-Vroukerk which was destroyed in both World Wars but rebuilt in 1922 and 1946 in its original Gothic style. In the detached tower there is a carillon of 67 bells.
Koning Albert Monument
Near the IJzer bridge a large equestrian statue was erected in honor of the Belgian King Albert I; it is surrounded by a rondel supported by 20 pillars. From the top of the monument there is a good view over the town and its surroundings.
Fishing and Yacht Harbor
In the fishing harbor on the Vismijnkaai the daily catch is still auctioned. A little to the north lie the basins of the yacht harbor.
IJzermonding Nature Reserve
In the area of the IJzer estuary stretches the large Ijzermonding Nature Reserve (16ha/40 acres). Here many aquatic birds and waders have their nests. The reserve can only be visited on a guided tour.
The little village of Lombardsijde has no attractions apart from the figure of the Madonna which was found on the beach and is now in the village church. The village is interesting on account of its history. In the fifth C. there was a large Anglo-Saxon settlement here which grew in the 11th C. into an important town with a large harbor. Storm floods in 1116 and 1134 devastated the town almost completely and altered the course of the IJzer so that Lombardsijde was divided from Nieuwpoort.
Halfway towards Ostend lies the quiet resort of Middelkerke which offers leisure pursuits of water sports, walking, riding and cycling.