Westende is located in the Belgian municipality of Middelkerke on the North Sea. In fact it is one of nine villages that were all eventually put under one umbrella to make administration easier. In the middle ages, these villages belonged to the Country of Bruges or the domain of Camerlincx. In 1795 the French set up nine municipalities, each called a kerkdorp – a village that was grouped around a church. By the way, windmills and churches back then were considered to be visual landmarks. In 1885 a steam tramway line (which later converted to electric) made all the villages easily accessible, boosting tourism considerably.
The first vacation houses built in Westende to enjoy the bathing opportunities offered there, were built by people from Brussels in 1896. During WWI most of Westende, including the once famous Grand Hotel Bellevue, was destroyed, setting back the tourism economy drastically. And during the second World War, the Germans built on the coast fortifications belonging to the Atlantic Wall. The batteries of Westende protected Nieuwpoort. It was a long hard recovery for Westende to regain its economic foothold in the tourism industry, but they managed to recover. Westende now provides marvelous opportunities for those who wish to have a peaceful seaside holiday.
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