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Knokke is the most North-Eastern sea-side resort of the Belgian coast. It lies close to the Dutch border and is separated from the Dutch territory by the 'Zwin', a beautiful and extremely interesting natural reserve. Nowadays, Knokke is considered to be the most exclusive beach city in Belgium, primarily because of 'Knokke-Zoute', an area of splendid villas where the Belgian jet-set feels at home. The beginnings of Knokke where, however, very humble. Legend has it that a group of Irish pilgrims, monks and villains settled in the area between the 6th and the 9th century. One of them, the monk Guthago, lived a pious life and died in the village mentioned as 'Cnoc'. How much of this is true is not known. Fact is that Knokke came into existence because of the construction of dikes that were meant to protect the area around the 'Zwin' sea-arm. In 1640 the settlement had a population of about 200 people.

At the time of the creation of the independent kingdom of Belgium in 1830 Knokke was still predominantly rural area consisting of a few hamlets. Already then, the place started to attract artists, a lot of them painters (such as James Ensor, Alfred Verwee and others). The artists rented a small miller's cottage and founded there the 'Cercle des Artistes' in 1880. At the beginning of the 20th century, Knokke rapidly changed into an rather select sea-side resort when the first hotels were built. Today, Knokke consists of a group of communities that are all grouped in the administrative community 'Knokke-Heist'.The most important parts are : Heist, Knokke with the Albertstrand (Albert's beach) and the more aristocratic Zoute.

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