It is thought that the name ‘Zierikzee’ is derived from ‘Sirichahe’, which used to mean ‘the water of Siri’. Siri was a man who supposedly built a house or farm on the creek of the Gouwe, the water that used to separate Schouwen and Duiveland. Zierikzee developed into a small town in the 11th and 12th centuries. The city reached its peak in the 14th century thanks to the trade, the fishery and the salt production. It began to decline in the 15th century when the Gouwe started to silt up and as a result of which Zierikzee was more difficult to reach. At the end of the 16th century, a channel was dug to connect the town with the Oosterschelde, and the city began to prosper once again
A physical example of the rises and falls in the economy is the Sint-Lievensmonstertoren, also known as the 'Thick-Tower'. Villagers began to construct this huge tower with huge ambition, but they were unable to finish it due to the decline in the economy. Originally, a tower of 200 meters would have been constructed, which explains the immense thickness of the initial section. Because of the poverty throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, three old city gates evaded demolition and can be admired today. The town hall, of which the oldest part dates back to the 14th century, has an exuberant renaissance tower.