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The dikes of our Meetjesland

Dikes were built to protect the land behind them from the sea.  In those days, 700 and more years ago, long before today's mighty earth moving machines, the construction of a dike was a huge enterprise.

What was accomplished here was considered one of the wonders of the world.  Even Dante Alighieri,  the great poet who lived from 1265 to 1321 in faraway Italy, thought them worthy of a word of praise in his famous work, the Divina Commedia, even though there is no evidence he ever left his country.


Dante honored on the Italian 2 euro coin

Here is the verse from Canto 15 of Dante's Inferno:

Quali Fiamminghi tra Guizzante e Bruggia,
temendo 'l fiotto che 'nver' lor s'avventa;
fanno lo schermo perché 'l mar si fuggia;

And here follows Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's translation:

Even as the Flemings, 'twixt Cadsand and Bruges,
Fearing the flood that tow'rds them hurls itself,
Their bulwarks build to put the sea to flight;

   

For many years these dikes were the wealth and the misery of our ancestors: the land behind them was very fertile but when they failed or were sabotaged everything was once again drowned in salty sea water.

Now they are the silent witnesses of the courage and perseverence of the people who built and maintained them.

More pictures of dikes

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Most recent update: 26 April 2017

Aalter
Adegem
Assenede
Balgerhoeke
Bassevelde
Bellem
Belzele
Bentille
Boekhoute
Donk
Doornzele
Eeklo
Ertvelde
Evergem
Hansbeke
Kaprijke
Kerkbrugge-Langerbrugge
Kleit
Kluizen
Knesselare
Landegem
Lembeke
Lotenhulle
Lovendegem
Maldegem
Merendree
Middelburg
Nevele
Oosteeklo
Oostwinkel
Overslag
Poeke
Poesele
Rieme
Ronsele
Sleidinge
St.-Jan-in-Eremo
St.-Kruis-Winkel
St.-Laureins
St.-Margriete
St.-Maria-Aalter
Ursel
Vinderhoute
Vosselare
Waarschoot
Wachtebeke
Waterland-Oudeman
Watervliet
Wippelgem
Zelzate
Zomergem