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Visiting Wervik, Belgium, with its Sint-Medarduskerk overlooking the Lys River: a prominent, spired landmark

Updated on May 23, 2013
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
The Sint-Medarduskerk and the Leiebrug in Wervik, on the Lys river. Wervik, West-Flanders, Belgium
The Sint-Medarduskerk and the Leiebrug in Wervik, on the Lys river. Wervik, West-Flanders, Belgium | Source
The first photo of the Sint Medarduskerk in Wervik, in the 1890s, by Isidore Blieck, seen yet minus the spire
The first photo of the Sint Medarduskerk in Wervik, in the 1890s, by Isidore Blieck, seen yet minus the spire | Source
The Sint-Medarduskerk in Wervik
The Sint-Medarduskerk in Wervik | Source
Map location of Wervik, West Flanders province
Map location of Wervik, West Flanders province | Source

A spire's height exceeding the length of the building

The church building known as the Sint-Medarduskerk at Wervik, Belgium, did not previously have a spire, But at the end of the 19th century, when the church at Wervicq-Sud (actually in France, across the Lys River (1), acquired one, a spire was added to the edifice at Wervik, also!

Thus with the addition of the prominent spire to the Sint-Medarduskerk, this building, with its 86 metre tower, dominates the very flat landscape around the Lys River.

Interestingly, its tower height is greater than the building's length, which is 81 metres. When one crosses the bridge at Wervik into Belgium from France, the tower seems to overwhelm all else in the town.

The parish church building was commenced in the 13th century, at a time of increasing prosperity in a district known for its textile industry. The tower (minus the spire!) was completed in 1433. Stone was the chief building material in which the structure was executed. The architecture is in a combination of Gothic styles: Brabant and Scheldt Gothic.

In the 16th century, Protestants destroyed a number of images in the building. The interior of the edifice has some interesting and ancient gravestones.

The building has repeatedly suffered war damage. A program of restoration was pursued in the approximately 30 years following 1980.

The town also has an interesting old windmill.

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme (1960-), who served in that office in 2008 and again from 2009 until 2011, was born in Wervik.

January 7, 2013


(1) I have used the spelling 'Lys' for this river, since in English this is the usual convention, but at Wervik itself, in the West Flanders (Dutch: West-Vlaanderen ) province of the Flemish region (Dutch: Vlaams gewest ), Belgium, the spelling 'Leie' is observed, this being the Dutch form. For several kilometres in the Wervik area, the Franco-Belgian border follows the Lys River.

Also worth seeing

In Wervicq-Sud , France (joined to Wervik by a bridge), its local church building has an imposing spire (see also, above), and dates from 1875

Menen , Belgium (distance: 7.2 kilometres) has many interesting features, including a city hall (Dutch: stadhuis) with a striking, octagonal tower.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Wervik (distance: 124 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company NMBS/SNCB maintains a service between Brussels and Wervik . For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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