When the huge sea inlet known as “het Zwin” gradually silted up, the Belgian city of Bruges founded a number of cities further downstream along the Zwin to act as an advanced harbour and outpost for the city. One of these is Damme, founded in 1168 at the place where a dam in the water created a new harbour.
After the silting up continued, that city lost its role as a major harbour to the city of Sluis, located further near the North Sea Coast.
This town still has a monumental gothic town hall with a belfry as a symbol of its former status.
Later the city lost all importance as a harbour, but remained an important fortress at the border between the independant Netherlands and the Southern Netherlands, occupied by Spain. The cities massive city walls and gates are a reminder of those troubled times.
The city itself is almost entirely modern as it was destroyed at the en of the second world war. Allied forces tried to dispose of the German occupational force by bombing the entire town to splinters. The germans dug themselves into the ancient walls and survived mostly unharmed.
Nevertheless, the town was rebuilt in a modern style, but with traditionalist leanings and the result is that it is still quite nice looking place that neigher looks like a fake remake of the prewar town, nor like a cold, grey place like so many places rebuilt after the war.