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Dunkerque Coat of Arms
Dunkerque (France)
region Hauts-de-France
Department North
Arrondissement Dunkerque
Canton Dunkerque-1
Community association Community urbaine de Dunkerque
Coordinates 51 ° 2 ′  N , 2 ° 23 ′  E Coordinates: 51 ° 2 ′  N , 2 ° 23 ′  E
height 0-17 m
surface 43.89 km 2
Residents 87,353 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 1,990 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 59140, 59240, 59640
INSEE code
Website www.ville-dunkerque.fr

Dunkerque [ dœ̃kɛʀk ] or [ dɛ̃kɛʀk ] ( German : Dunkirk ; Dutch : Duinkerke (n); English : Dunkirk; French-Flemish : Duunkerke ) is a French port city on the southern North Sea coast or Channel coast in the North department in the historic West Flemish language area of French -Flanders . The northernmost city of France, located around ten kilometers west of the border with Belgium , has 87,353 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017), with the suburbs there are around 250,000. It lives from the harbor and from large industrial settlements and houses a university with around 10,000 students.

Dunkerque gained historical importance during the time of King Louis XIV , his fortress builder Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban and the corsair Jean Bart, who was born in this city . The place name is now reminiscent of one of the most important episodes of the Second World War : In 1940 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and parts of the defeated French army were surrounded by the Germans here in the Battle of Dunkirk .


Dunkerque was first mentioned in a document in the 7th century as a fishing settlement . Thanks to its strategically favorable location at the entrance to the English Channel , the town developed rapidly: a city ​​wall was built in 960 and the first town hall was built in 1233 . An important industry in Dunkirk for centuries was fishing for herring and later for cod off Iceland .

Merian: Plan of Dunkirk Dunkerque 1702

On the other hand, the city's location has always aroused desires. In the course of their history, the “German” -speaking ( Lower Franconian and Dutch ) residents initially belonged to Flanders , Burgundy and the Spanish Netherlands . In 1646 Dunkirk was conquered by France and the Netherlands after a month of siege and fell to England in the Anglo-Spanish War after the Battle of the Dunes in 1658 . Finally, on October 17th, the city became Jul. / October 27, 1662 greg. sold for five million livres by King Charles II of England to King Louis XIV of France . From then on, the city was surrounded by strong fortifications under Vauban . In the 17th and 18th centuries, Dunkirk was a base for French corsairs . In the 19th century, the city rose to become the third largest port in France.

During the First World War , the city was the target of German bombings and offensives, such as the First Battle of Flanders .

In the Second World War , in the spring of 1940, Dunkirk was largely destroyed in the fighting between the German Wehrmacht and the encircled British Army at the Battle of Dunkirk . In Operation Dynamo , the Royal Navy was able to save most of the French and British troops that had fled to the city for Great Britain. From 1940 which maintained naval one in the city of naval hospital . After Operation Overlord Dunkirk 1944 by the Wehrmacht to Atlantic fortress declared until the war ended defended and only on May 9, 1945 the day after the surrender occupied by the Allies.

On December 9, 2010, the previously independent municipalities of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer (21,783 inhabitants, as of January 1, 2008) and Fort-Mardyck (3563 inhabitants, as of January 1, 2008) became districts of Dunkerque. The population rose to 93,945.

In the wake of the refugee crisis in Europe , after the evacuation of the Calais jungle in October 2016, Dunkerque became the target of numerous refugees and migrants who hoped to gain access to the United Kingdom from there . In February 2017, around 2000 people had already gathered in the camp near Grande-Synthe , where they lived under sometimes precarious conditions.

Population development

year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2008 2017
Residents 27,616 27,504 73,800 73.120 70,331 70,834 68.292 87,353


See also: List of Monuments historiques in Dunkerque

  • The Tour du Leughenaer (from the Flemish word for liar, meaning “tower of the liar”) dates from the 15th century.
  • The Notre-Dame-des-Dunes chapel was built in the 15th century.
  • The Church of St. Elisius (Dutch: Sint-Eligiuskerk ) is a five-aisled hall church from the 16th century, its neo-Gothic facade dates from the late 19th century.
  • The Belfry Saint Eloi , also called Belfry of Dunkirk , was built in the 15th century by adding more heights to the city's main watchtower from 1233. Today the tourist information is located on the ground floor of the belfry . The top of the tower is accessible and offers a wide view. The carillon, consisting of 50 bells, can be viewed on the second floor.
  • The town hall building was built at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • The Porte de la Marine is one of the gates of the former city ​​fortifications built by Vauban .
  • The statue of the corsair Jean Bart is the work of the 19th century sculptor David d'Angers .
  • The Dunkirk Harbor Museum on the Bassin du Commerce right on the edge of the city center documents the millennial history of the Dunkirk harbor and shows three museum ships.
  • In the Mémorial du Souvenir you can learn many details about the Battle of Dunkirk , the withdrawal of British and French troops in 1940 and their evacuation to England, Operation Dynamo .
  • The Fine Arts Museum displays ancient art, as well as some ethnographic and archaeological pieces from its rich collection.
  • The Lieu d'Art et Action Contemporaine ( LAAC ) museum is nestled in a sculpture park and houses a collection of modern art from 1940 to 1980.
  • The FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkerque is one of the 23 French funds régionaux d'art contemporain , FRAC for short, German: Regional Fund for Contemporary Art. The facility is housed in a large shipyard hall in the port, next to which an exhibition building with five levels was built in the same cubature. A collection of contemporary art and exhibitions by current artists are shown.


In 2002, Dunkerque was voted the sportiest city in France with more than 20,000 inhabitants by the major sports newspaper L'Équipe .

The cycle race, the Four Days of Dunkirk , which has been taking place at the beginning of May since 1955, is internationally known . Even Tour de France -Etappen found already taken in Dunkerque, most recently 2007 . In 2001 the Grand Depart, the start of the tour, was held here.

Every year a triathlon of the prestigious French club championship Lyonnaise des Eaux , which is made up of top-class international legionnaires, takes place in Dunkerque , for example on 23 May 2010 with Andrea Hewitt and Jonathan Brownlee as winners.

The handball club Dunkerque Handball Grand Littoral won the French Cup in 2011 and was in the final of the EHF Cup a year later .

Regular events

The carnival is the main event in the city. It takes place in Dunkerque and its suburbs from late January to early April.

Carnival in Dunkerque

Parts of the carnival are:

  • Parades: The carnivalists march past in gardens ("bandes") on the streets, following a drum major who is dressed in a Napoleonic uniform.
  • Balls: The carnivalists celebrate in the city's large festival hall and sing carnival songs. The balls are organized by the carnival clubs.

In 1676 there was a masked parade in Dunkerque. In the 17th and 18th centuries, shipowners offered their seafarers a feast the day before they left for Iceland. These celebrations were the origin of the Visschersbende (fishermen's guard). However, this event was separate from the Mardi Gras mask carnival . A year later, the two events took place on the same day, which started the Dunkerque Carnival. The carnival survived the French Revolution and the two world wars. In 1946, the band slalomed through the ruins of the city.

Town twinning



  • When the meter was traced back to the dimensions of the earth , it was based on the distance between Dunkirk and Perpignan . This is roughly the longest north-south stretch of France.
  • Dunkerque has a ferry service to Dover ( UK )
  • Since September 2018, use of local transport in Dunkirk has been free. "The aim is to get people back on the buses," said Mayor Patrice Vergriete. This should relieve the streets of the city. In previous attempts at the weekend, bus use had increased by up to 60 percent. One year after its introduction, an evaluation showed that usage increased by 65% ​​on weekdays and by 125% on weekends.
Panorama of Dunkerque, taken from the Dunkirk Belfry


  • Le Patrimoine des Communes du Nord. Flohic Editions, Volume 1, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-84234-119-8 , pp. 717-752.

Web links

Commons : Dunkerque  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Dunkerque  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich von Raumer: History of Europe since the end of the fifteenth century, Volume 6, Leipzig 1838, p. 271 , queried on October 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Historical map as a digitized version of the University and State Library Düsseldorf .
  3. Dunkerque: le préfet prononce la fusion. La Voix du Nord, December 8, 2010, accessed March 27, 2013 (French).
  4. Mark Townsend: Women and children 'endure rape, beatings and abuse' inside Dunkirk's refugee camp. The Guardian February 12, 2017
  5. a b Dunkerque Internationale. (No longer available online.) Official city website, archived from the original April 1, 2013 ; accessed on March 27, 2013 (French). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ville-dunkerque.fr
  6. In Dunkirk everyone is allowed to travel by bus for free Spiegel Online June 29, 2018
  7. First results of the free bus service Le Monde online November 4th, 2019