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  KNOKKE: The "Zwin" Natural Reserve
 
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The website of the Natural Reserve "The Zwin" and its Butterfly Garden


Belgian Railway Poster for Knokke, by Em. Dupuis (1910)
 

The Zwin, the life force of Medieval Bruges.The 'Zwin' is one of the beautiful and scientifically most important natural reserves of Belgium. The role that this silted up sea-arm played in the history of medieval Flanders cannot be overrated. Via this sea-arm that had been created by a flooding of the North-Sea, ships from all over the (then known) world could sail to the city of Bruges. Bruges rose to become one of the most important medieval European ports. Because of the international cloth-trade the Flemish hinterland also profited from this economically very favorable situation. When in the aftermath of the high Middle-Ages, the 'Zwin' started to silt up, Bruges lost all advantages and turned into a small provincial city. Until it was discovered by modern tourism ...........

The zwin, a paradise for birds.The Zwin is situated between Knokke and the border with The Netherlands. It has a surface of 125 hectares on Belgian territory and about 25 hectares on Dutch territory. After the silting up, several creeks were created. These creeks are filled with water at high tide. The sea pours silt into the creeks and thereby creates a eco-system that is constantly refreshed. Not every part of the Zwin is flooded continuously. Some parts (the salt marshes) are only flooded at spring tide.

 

The eco-system is fabulously rich. One square meter of the creeks can contain tens of thousands of sea-organisms. This is the food for the numerous types of sea birds that gather here (some on their way to the warmer South in the fall). Every part of the Zwin has its own type of vegetation. The entire natural reserve is at its most splendid from tThe blooming of the sea lavender.he middle of July until the end of August when the sea lavender blooms. During that period the entire Zwin resembles an immense purple carpet.

The Zwin can be visited daily from 9 am till 5 pm (till 9 pm from Easter till September). Closed on Wednesday from November till March). Every Sunday there are guided tours at 10 am.
Address: Natuurreservaat 'Het Zwin', Ooievaarslaan 8, 8300 Knokke-Heist. Tel : 050/60.70.86

 

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