In 1914 the Great War destroyed the medieval city centre of Dendermonde. Like many other buildings in the city, its 14th century city hall and belfry were consumed by fl ames. In 2014 a new visitor centre in the reconstructed city hall and belfry (currently UNESCO world heritage classified), will allow visitors to explore this city’s remarkable historical events and experience the impact that the war had on its cultural heritage and people.

History of Dendermonde as a martyr city

On 4 August 1914, German troops crossed the Belgian border. For days, Aarschot, Dendermonde and Leuven were plundered, citizens were executed and town centres were reduced to ashes. In August and September 2014, exactly one century will have passed since these events hit the headlines around the world. The programme at Aarschot, Leuven and Dendermonde focuses on the horror of civilian casualties and the destruction of ancient heritage. Top international music acts supported by Flemish talent paint a unique and creative picture of the story of these Martyr Cities. Each concert closes with a light show against the backdrop of the town’s cultural heritage.

Dendermonde is, as a martyr city very badly hit in the First World War. For example, more than half of the city was burned and the city was left in ruins.

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