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Koksijde (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)


Last modified: 2021-06-19 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Koksijde - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 1 May 2006

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Presentation of Koksijde and its villages

The municipality of Koksijde (in French, Coxyde; 21,419 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,395 ha; municipal website) is located on the North Sea, 5 km north-west of Veurne and 10 km north-east of the French border. The municipality of Koksijde was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Koksijde, Oostduinkerke, Sint-Idesbald, and Wulpen.

Koksijde is mostly known for its sea resort, Koksijde Bad, with a 8 km long sand beach, a 3.6 km long promenade and a casino.
The farm Ten Bogaerde, built in 1184, is a former abbey barn transformed into a small local abbey in the 17th century. The abbey church was restored in 1993. The mill of Koksijde comes from Houtem-Veurne; it was dismantled in 1951-1952 and rebuilt in 1954. It was used as its workshop by the painter Jean Luypaert (1893-1954).
The Zouave Monument, erected in 1934, is a tribute to the 8,000 French Zouaves killed in Belgium during the First World War. Koksijde has also a French military cemetery, with 132 tombs of the Grossetti division and the Ronarc'h marine brigade (1914-1917), and a British military cemetery, with 1,665 tombs of the First and Second World Wars.
The building of the airfield of Koksijde started between the two World Wars, when the Belgian Air Force was reorganized. After the invasion of Belgium in 1940, the Germans built a 800 m long runway. The airfield was bombed by the allied forces in 1943-1944; in June 1944, the Germans mined and destroyed the runways. The RAF revamped the airfield in October 1944, and it was operational again in January 1945. It was transferred to the Belgian army in 1946. The Fighters' School (École de Chasse) was founded in Koksijde on 1 February 1948; moved to Brustem on 7 January 1957, it was disbanded in 1961. The air and sea search and rescue branch was created in Koksijde on 23 February 1948. On 8 January 1957, the 13th Fighters' Wing (13e Wing de Chasse) settled in Koksijde; it was disbanded on 1 July 1958. The Military Training Center (Centre de Formation Militaire) was stationed in Koksijde from its creation on 17 May 1967 until its disbanding on 20 May 1994.

The Abbey of the Dunes (Abdij Ten Duinen) was founded in Koksijde in 1120 as a daughter of the Cistercian abbey of Savigny. The abbey was directly reincorporated to Clairvaux by "adoption" in 1137/1138. Because of the sand, the abbey was rebuilt in Bruges in the 17th century, and was completely forgotten, including its precise location. The beatification of Abbot Idesbald in 1894 was officially celebrated in Bruges in 1896. The success of the celebration prompted the local archeology society to search the remains of the abbey. In 1897, M.J. Valckenaere and M. Vallaeys found remains of the church and of the estate under 3 m of sand; the excavation was stopped by the increase in the level of the ground water. In 1911, the Royal Museums of Art and History of Brussels commissionned Father Van de Walle, F. Ancot et M. Roels to resume the excavations; several artifacts were found and transferred to the Museums. In 1928-1929, Karel Loppens accurately located the 13th century abbey, but the systematic excavation was postponed until 1949. In the beginning, the aim of the excavation, directed by Pr. R.M. Lemaire, was to find bricks to restore the facade of the Grand Seminary in Bruges. In 1959, the scientific purpose of the excavation was established and a museum was created to show the found artifacts. Several successive excavation campaigns unveiled different parts of the abbey, such as the cemetery, the abbot's house, the well, the kitchens, the refectory, the abbey church. The ruins were officially protected as an historical monument in 1986 (website).

Oostduinkerke is famous for its shrimp fishers, especially for those fishers riding horses. This kind of fishing, unique in the world, is celebrated every year on the last weekend of June in the Shrimp Festival. In the village, a former fisher's house and pub has been transformed into the National Fishing Museum; the museum shows a big collection of scale models of fishing boats and paintings by Artan, Farasyn and Boudry, three painters who settled in the village around 1900. The former Litto locksmith factory, once the biggest locksmith in Belgium, has been transformed into the Key and Lock Museum (Sleutel and Slot Museum), with a section dedicated to modern anti-burglary technologies.

Sint-Idesbald is named after Blessed Idesbald (from Germanic Idis Baltha, "intrepid") van der Gracht, born c. 1090 in Eggewaartskapelle. His father Eggewaart was a noble landlord who built a chapel and offerred it to the St. Bertinus abbey in Saint-Omer; the original name of the village, Ter Gracht, was superseded by the new name, Eggewaart's Chapel. In 1121, Idesbald followed his father and gave a part of his domain to the abbey. He played a significant part in the court of Flanders under Dukes Charles le Bon, Guillaume de Normandie and Thierry d'Alsace. In 1149, he was appointed Regional Councillor in Veurne. Aged 60 and widowed, Idesbald took the coat at the abbey of the Dunes under the guidance of Blessed Robert de Bruges, a friend of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. Bishop Milon de Thérouanne ordained Idesbald priest and appointed him Cantor of the abbey. When St. Bernard died in 1153, Robert de Bruges succeeded him in Clairvaux and left the Dunes. Robert's successor, Albero, resigned in 1155 and the monks elected Idesbald as their abbot. During his 12-year tenure, Idesbald increased the spiritual and temporal power of the abbey, which became the economical center of the region. He died on 18 April 1167 and was buried into a lead coffin. When the coffin was opened in 1239, 1624 and 1625, the body was found intact. When they moved to Bruges in 1627, the monks took Isebald's relics with them. Pope Leon XIII beatified Blessed Isebald on 10 July 1894. On 23 June 1968, some of his relics were transferred to the Our Lady of the Dunes church in Koksijde. Idesbald is the patron saint of the fishers, of the polder farmers and of the Flemish nobility.
Sint-Idesbald houses the Paul Delvaux Foundation (website); created in 1979, the foundation inaugurated in 1982 the only museum in the world specifically dedicated to Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), located in the Vlievort house, last residence of the painter and his wife.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 2006

Flag of Koksijde

The flag of Koksijde is quartered green with the municipal coat of arms, yellow, white, and blue with a shrimp fisher on his horse, all in yellow.
The flag, adopted on 3 December 1985 and 4 November 1987 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 14 June 1988 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 16 September 1988 in the Belgian official gazette.
The shrimp fisher represents Oostduinkerke.
Before the municipal reform, Koksijde used, unofficially, a green and blue flag, after the colours of the former arms of the municipality.
[Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02]]


Other flag of Koksijde - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 June 2010

While the official municipal flag can be seen in a limited number of places - for instance at the entrance of the Abbey of the Dunes Museum and on the Town Hall, the most commonly seen flag - for instance, on the waterfront, several copies, and near the Paul Delvaux Foundation in Sint-Idelsbald, is vertically divided blue-ligth blue (2:3) with the logo of the municipality in the middle.

The logo of Koksijde is made of a white "K" inscribed in a white ring partially "filled" in its lower part. The logo, part of a new house style, was presented on 6 December 2008. The "K" represents Koksijde, the "O"-ring represents Oostduinkere and the segment in the lower part represents the sea.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 13 June 2010