Feniks 2020 - Reconstruction of Flanders Fields
Four years of trench warfare in the northern part of the Western Front left untold devastation for man and nature in its wake. The First World War had wiped dozens of towns and villages along the old frontline clean off the map. Recovery seemed out of the question.
Where on earth to begin? Yet slowly but surely, the Westhoek clawed its way back to its feet. Within a decade, the reconstruction was largely completed. The fact that the landscape of the Westhoek today has a strong homogenous feel owes much to the 'picturesque' architectural style that was adopted during the years of reconstruction.
The reconstruction stands as a symbol for the resilience of the local population. The first refugees returned even before the war had ended. While they awaited the rebuilding of their homes, they helped with the recovery of the region. There was work enough to do! At the same time, social life in the region also began to flourish once more. As early as 1919, local fairs and processions were again taking place, just as they had before the war. The level of solidarity shown to the region was great. Many donations were also received from allied and neutral countries – The Netherlands, Great Britain and even New Zealand – which helped to heal the wounds of war.
A century ago, the Westhoek rose like a phoenix from its ashes. It is under the title of ‘Feniks’ that the municipalities and museums in the Westhoek have joined forces to tell the remarkable story not only of the material rebuilding, but also of the recovery of the region's social and cultural life : the reconstruction as a symbol to the local population’s indestructible resilience.
St. Nicholas Church Veurne - from 30 May 2020
The tower of St. Nicholas Church
214 steps, a carillon with 47 bells, 11 viewing windows and a magnificent view: what more could you want! On your way to the top, you will learn about the importance of belfry towers during both world wars.
An interactive information booth with a 360° view of the vista from the tower brings the historical sites from before, during and shortly after the war to life on the ground floor of Saint Nicholas’ Church in Veurne.