Saturday, 15 December 2012

The legend of Saeftinghe

The Saeftinghe legend is a old Dutch folk tale that explains the sunken city of Saeftinghe in the Western Dutch province of Zeeland, that existed until it was entirely flooded by sea waters in 1584. The legend says the city grew to be the most prosperous city on the fertile land of the Scheldts but the inhabitants grew vain and proud. The farmers dressed in silk, their horses wearing silver and even the thresholds of homes were made from gold. Greed corrupted the hearts of men and turned them blind for imminent threats.

On a foggy day, a fisherman caught a mermaid on the waters of the Western Scheldt. From the nets, the mermaid warned him Saeftinghe needed to change its ways or suffer the inevitable dire consequences. Where the mermaid's husband surfaced and asked for his wife to be set free, the fisherman refused and yelled at him. The merman cursed the fisherman and his city, screaming ''The lands of Saeftinghe will fall, only its towers will continue to stand tall!'' The people of Saeftinghe, occupied with greed, forget to take care of their dikes. One day, when a maid went to get water from a well, she noticed cod and other fish swimming in it. The sea was nearing, the water turning salt. With the All Saints Flood (1570), a huge tidal wave washed over the lands of Saeftinghe, destroying the towns of Sint Laureins, Namen and Casuwele, killing all of its inhabitants. Saefthinghe withered and soon only its towers testified of its prosperous past until the city finally sank into the muddy swamps.

On foggy days, the tower bells call for help from what was once a wealthy place but is now a doomed world covered in mud, captured by the sea for all times.


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