4 ways to enjoy UNESCO world heritage in Aalst and Dendermonde

4 ways to enjoy UNESCO world heritage in Aalst and Dendermonde

Als ‘t (erf)goed is, zeggen we ’t ook!

There's no need to head off to American craters or Asian temples to catch a glimpse of UNESCO world heritage. We have a rich history, with amazing places, traditions and buildings, here too. Aalst and Dendermonde defend the region's honour. Each in their own way, of course.

Time for a trip through the Dender towns in the Dender valley. On foot okay, but why not by bike? After all, with the cycling guide 'Fietsen in de Dendervallei' you can discover not only Dendermonde and Aalst,  but while you're at it also the third Dender town of Ninove, as well as the whole magnificent Dender valley.

Eeeuh-nesco? Let us explain!

UNESCO is the world heritage division of the United Nations. They list customs, sanctuaries, buildings or places that can be considered as human heritage. And of course Scheldeland stands proudly on the list – as many as 5 times! 

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Dendermonde Belfry

The Belfry in Dendermonde has stood there since the 14th century. It is part the town hall together with the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall). Come in the summer months, when the flowers are in blossom and the colourful heraldic flags are flapping.

Climb the 40.33-metre tower and discover its unique history. Did you know that the building was badly damaged during the First World War? Hear the tumultuous tales of the Belfry during a visit to this impressive piece of heritage. 

Your visit:

  • Individual visits are possible
  • Audio guide available for 2 euros
  • Panoramic views from the 6th floor
  • Modern visitor centre in the Lakenhalle

Aalst Belfry

On the Grote Markt in Aalst, amidst all the wonderful historic buildings, the Belfry towers proudly above all else. Not just one large building, but 3 individual buildings in fact.

After all, Aalst's Belfry comprises the old Aldermen's house, the belfry tower and district house. In this piece of UNESCO world heritage, every detail is bursting with history. And down in the cellar, you will also discover a surprising contemporary touch. Ready to visit the Belfry?

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The St Alexius Beguinage in Dendermonde

It's not often you discover something as picturesque as the St Alexius Beguinage in Dendermonde. This peaceful haven is right in the heart of the town. The last beguines disappeared in the mid 1970s, but in the Beguinage Museum you can find out all about their life and customs.

The first stone in the St Alexius Beguinage was laid in 1288, after which it became a lively district with 61 houses, a lovely little church and  – in its heyday – home to as many as 200 beguines. The decorative and herb gardens are also worth visiting. 

Your visit:

  • Free entrance
  • Open from 7am to 9pm
  • Beguinage Museum and Folklore Museum open at numbers 11 and 25
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The Parade of the Bayard Steed and the Giants' procession “Katuit” in Dendermonde

The Parade of the Bayard Steed is known for miles beyond Dendermonde. The legend of the steed and its four young riders certainly appeals to the imagination.  

This procession is organised and orchestrated with such care and attention that it is only held once every decade. So put the date of the next Bayard Steed parade in your diary (29 May 2022!) and make sure you come.

Can't wait that long to experience a veritable UNESCO procession? No worries, as Dendermonde also organises an annual Traditional Giants' parade, called “Katuit”. This parade originated from a procession too and dates back to the 11th century. During this march you see the 3 immense giants of the guild dancing through the streets. An experience that is certainly not to be missed.

Your visit (modified data due to the corona situation):

  •   Parade of the Bayard Steed: every ten years, next edition in 2030
  •   Giants' Parade “Katuit”: yearly, next edition on 31 August 2023