Veurne Tourist Attractions
The little town of Veurne (French Furnes), not far from the North Sea coast and at the confluence of four canals, is the center of a legal and administrative district and is worth visiting especially for its lovely marketplace.
Its historic monuments dating from the Spanish period were damaged by bombardment during the First and Second World Wars but have been excellently restored. Ham from Veurne is a noted delicacy.Veurne grew up around a castle erected by the Counts of Flanders in the ninth C. as protection against the Normans and it became the chief place of the counts' fortified estate of Veurne-Ambacht. It reached its zenith under the regentship of the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella in the 17th C. when most of the stately buildings around the Grote Markt came into being. The French strengthened the fortifications which had been set up in the 14th C. and which, under the Austrians, were razed to the ground in 1783. In the First World War Veurne was the most important town of the small part of Belgium not occupied by German troops and in spite of artillery attack could not be taken. During the Battle of Ypres King Albert I chose the town hall as his headquarters. In the Second World War the town suffered more severe damage than between 1914 and 1918.
Procession of the Penitents
This annual procession takes place on the last Sunday of July, and dates back to the 12th century. The procession honors a relic of the Holy Cross which was given to the St Walburge Church in Bruges by the Count of Flanders.The modern festival continues to honor the theme of penitents. People joining the procession wear clothes made of rough material and cover their heads with hoods.
The Penitential procession, which takes place annually on the last Sunday in July, dates back to the 12th C.; it was first held in 1644 and since 1656 has been celebrated every year. Members of the "Sodaliteit" brotherhood present scenes from the Passion of Christ in a procession, and they are followed by penitents in the garments of Capuchins dragging along heavy crosses. The Way of the Cross processions in Lent and at Easter are connected with Spanish traditions. The Way of the Cross begins at Sint-Walburgakerk and ends at the Sint-Niklaaskerk. During Lent it takes place every Friday at 8pm and during Easter week daily at the same time. On Maundy Thursday it is held at 8 and 9pm.
The Grote Markt in Veurne features an assortment of historical buildings of Spanish Renaissance architecture.
Grote Markt - Surroundings
Kasteel van Beauvoorde
Standing 7km/4.5miles south of Veurne is the Kasteel van Beauvoorde, an attractive Renaissance château surrounded by a moat. It was constructed between 1591 and 1617 on the site of a destroyed castle by the master builder of Archduke Albrecht and Isabella and after a period when it became dilapidated it was bought by a private citizen Arthur Merghelynck and restored.He is responsible for the present interior furnishing (Renaissance furniture, paintings, objects d'art) which can be seen on a guided tour.
In Izenberge, 10km/6miles to the south of Veurne, the museum "Bachten de Kupe" should be visited. It is devoted to local culture and divided into three sections: a dwelling house, a museum of popular art and an open-air museum with rural buildings including a smithy and a farmhouse.
The village of Houtem, 10km/6miles to the southwest of Veurne, was from the beginning of 1915 until the late summer of 1918 the headquarters of the Belgian army.
Lo is a pretty little town 15km/9.5mi southeast of Veurne. Its Gothic hall church is richly furnished with artistic features, especially valuable paintings including some by Mittendorf, Boeckhorst and Boucquet. Only a tower remains of the 14th C. fortifications.