Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom is situated in Noord-Brabant, just east of Zeeland, and has around 66,000 inhabitants. The town lies on the Oosterschelde and the ground consists of clay and sand. Bergen op Zoom was originally a harbour and a fishing village but today it is mostly industriarial. Anchovies, oysters, mussels and lobsters are still fished commercially though. Ships of 2000 tonnes can moor in the Theodorus harbour, which was opened in 1964. Thanks to this, the shipping trade has increased greatly over the years. In the vicinity of Bergen op Zoom, asparagus is cultivated in greenhouses. The town also provides jurisdiction, education and health care for the surrounding villages.
The origin of Bergen op Zoom dates back to the beginning of the thirteenth century. The circular shape of the medieval town can be seen on the current town map. Almost all defensive works were pulled down in the nineteenth century, to make room for the growing industry. Strategically they no longer served any purpose. Bergen op Zoom still has some old buildings however. One of them is the Markiezenhof, former residence of the marquises of Bergen op Zoom, built between 1485 and 1532. The Grote Kerk (Big Church) or St. Geertrudiskerk, dates back to the fifteenth century. The Onze Lieve Vrouwe Poort originates from the fourteenth century and consists of two round towers made out of white natural stone.