Middelburg

Aerial photograph Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is the capital of Zeeland and is situated on the peninsula of Walcheren. The rural district of Middelburg includes the villages of Arnemuiden, Kleverskerke, Sint-Laurens, Nieuwland and Sint-Joosland. Middelburg, with a population count of 46,375 on January 1st 2004, is the second largest town after Terneuzen. The town of Middelburg is split into two by the Canal of Walcheren.

Functions

Middelburg is the seat of the provincial government, and there are a lot of jobs, particularly within the service industries. A county court, the Chamber of Commerce for the South West of the Netherlands, the Service for Town and Country Planning (Planologische Dienst), the Provincial Energy Company (PZEM) and the Department of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat), all have their seats in this town. In the way of culture, Middelburg also has its own theatre, a  playhouse, a concert hall, an auditorium and several museums. The Zeeuws Museum holds many collections of ceramics, paintings, tapestries, pennies, historical costumes and excavations. 'Miniatuur Walcheren', a 1:20 scale clone of the island of Walcheren, is also a very popular tourist destination.

Townscape

Abbey of Middelburg
Middelburg
The oldest record of the city dates back to 1103 when Middelburg is mentioned as ‘Mitthelburgensis Portus’ in a description of the life of Saint-Willibrord. It is believed that the city rose out of defensive works, a ‘vliedberg’ or a fortress constructed in the ninth century in order to keep the Norsemen out, who were invading Zeeland. According to that theory Middelburg was situated in between Domburg (in the north) and Souburg (in the south).

The centre of the old town is surrounded by bulwarks, which were constructed at the end of the sixteenth century. Only in 1873, when the Canal through Walcheren was excavated, were the bulwarks slightly modified. Apart from that the structure of the defensive works is still very recognizable. On May 17th 1940, a large part of the town was destroyed by German bombings. During the reconstruction of the town, buildings were restored to their original glory. The road layout was also improved to allow for better circulation of traffic.