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dinsdag 12 november 2013

The hidden cannon

When you’re roaming the streets of Bruges, you pass by things you’d miss if you don’t pay attention. I’ll tell you about one I didn’t notice until someone told me about it a few years ago.

When you’re walking from the Market square towards the “wall of beer”, you are walking in the “Wollestraat”. At a certain moment, on the right side you’ll find a strange looking pole standing on the corner of the street (Wollestraat-Kartuizerinnenstraat as shown on the map).
Take a real good look at it. You’ll see it’s no ordinary pole, but actually an upside-down cannon! The story on this cannon is shown on the bas relief you can see at the fa├žade of the house with number 28. In 1631 the Dutch camped near Damme, ready to invade Bruges. The general was Frederik-Hendrik van Oranje. You can see the Dutch troops approaching on this picture.

His nephew, Johan van Nassau-Siegen, was working for the Spanish at that time and was ordered to stop Frederik-Hendrik. When the Spanish troops arrived in the area of Bruges, they had much more men available than the Dutch troops had. So the Dutch didn’t engage them, but gathered their stuff, set the camp on fire and destroyed a pontoon bridge to ensure their retreat. That’s what this picture shows.

In the last bas relief you see the Spanish army leave Bruges. They didn’t destroy anything in the city. People of Bruges were relieved they didn’t have to suffer any siege. A cannon which was left by the Dutch troops in their rushed departure was found and placed in the city as a reminder of this “almost battle”.
It stood on a gun carriage on the corner of this street until the 1930’s. Nobody knows why, but somewhere around those days someone decided that the cannon with carriage was to be dismantled. The barrel was planted in the ground, so it looked a bit like an ordinary pole.

Nowadays everyone walks past it, not noticing the cannon. Except… you of course!