Welcome to Middelburg
Welcome to Middelburg, the friendly, intimate, historic capital of Zeeland province!
A walk through Middelburg is wandering through history, past beautiful listed buildings and unusual streets. The city will surprise you – it is full of unusual specialist shops, and cafés and restaurants with friendly pavement seating. Go with a guide and discover the city! This magazine tells you about everything that Middelburg has to offer, including special items about the typical fishing town of Arnemuiden.
Middelburg came into existence when the Vikings invaded Europe in the ninth century. It was a stronghold then, surrounded by a ring of fortifications to protect it from the conquering hordes. Once that threat receded, the citadel began to benefit from its favourable location on the River Arne and it developed into a lively trading centre.
Middelburg enjoyed a second period of pre-eminence when Norbertine monks decided to build an abbey there in the twelfth century. The town was given municipal rights in 1217. But things changed for Middelburg in around 1572 when its people remained faithful to the Spanish king while the town fell into the hands of his enemy William of Orange. The abbey was taken over by the regional government, an arrangement that has remained in place to this very day.
At the time of the East India Company, Middelburg was the most important Dutch city after Amsterdam. Ship's carpenters were building ship after ship while the import and export of such products as cotton, cinnamon and tea was flourishing. But by 1799 the East India Company was past its prime. The company was bankrupt and the French had arrived in the Netherlands. That was not to the city’s advantage. When the French left at the start of the nineteenth century, Middelburg was in an impoverished state. Even so, more than one thousand historic buildings remained.
A bombardment during the Second World War led to a large part of Middelburg going up in flames. The city centre was largely in ruins. Fortunately the decision was taken to renovate or rebuild buildings (including the Town Hall) in the typical architectural style of the past. As a result, Middelburg has kept its historic appearance.
The municipality of Middelburg now has around 50,000 inhabitants. The seat of the provincial government is in this capital of Zeeland. Middelburg is also a real student city thanks to University College Roosevelt. The municipality of Middelburg also includes the picturesque villages of Arnemuiden, Kleverskerke, Nieuw- en Sint Joosland and Sint Laurens.
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