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Bayard Steed.

Meet the legendary Bayard Steed! TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: DENDERMONDE

Once every decade, the quiet and beautiful town of Dendermonde becomes the roaring, folkloristic capital of Belgium, when tens of thousands of spectators witness the mighty Bayard Steed parade through its streets. On 24 May 2020, this legendary steed will ride once again. Between Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent lies the historical town of Dendermonde. Its medieval city centre is one of the oldest in Belgium and is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the 14th-century town hall with its belfry, and the 13thcentury St. Alex beguinage. Normally, the town is not crowded with tourists, making it an ideal spot for an interesting, inti36  |  Issue 73  |  January 2020

mate and alternative city trip. But every ten years, when the gigantic wooden Bayard Steed ‘gallops’ through town, the streets are amassed with onlookers, to show their love for this beloved animal. “Outsiders sometimes mock the excitement, but the moment it gallops on the main square, it changes everything,” emphasises Greta Van Acker from Tourism Dendermonde.

fist. So, Aymon brings him to the lockedup, frightful horse Bayard, which has never found a master,” Van Acker explains. Reynaud manages to tame this magical horse. Later, after a quarrel at the court of Charlemagne, the four sons of Aymon escape from his fury on the back of Bayard. “To restore peace at the court,

The magical steed The saga of the Bayard Steed dates back to the Middle Ages and the story goes as follows: “Aymon, Lord of Dendermonde, married the cousin of Charlemagne and had four sons. Each of them got a horse. The eldest son, Reynaud, was so strong that he killed his horse with one blow of the

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk.