- MIDDLEBURG, THE NETHERLANDS:
- ZEELAND’S PICTURESQUE MEDIEVAL CAPITAL
I have had the opportunity to spend a night in Amsterdam in 2017, but I did not really have the chance to see Amsterdam, so I didn’t consider it a visit. Until I visited this picturesque capital of Zeeland called Middleburg. It is perfect for anyone who is a history geek or love historic places like I do. I think I have found my second favorite city after Norway. Oh my God! Middleburg is so beautiful and the residents are super friendly. You hardly pass by anyone without getting a warm smile.
- I flew in from Sandefjord airport in Norway and arrived at Schipol airport then began to look for the train station as the airport is really huge. It took me about roughly 12-15 minutes to find the train station, and I made sure to ask questions too until I got to the right train Spoor. I boarded the first train which took me to Rotterdam Central and switched to the one headed to Vlissingen. The yellow intercity train is comfortable and even has WIFI in it. It costs about 26 euro from Schipol to Middleburg by train. It took about two hours and 30 minutes to get to Middleburg. It was just like the photos I had seen, so I instantly fell in love with it.
- Once I arrived to the capital of Zeeland, I was surprised. Middelburg is such a pretty city. so I was definitely surprised at the sight of the pretty medieval center. The city is properly old too, having been founded in the 9th century.
Ever since that moment it has been a wealthy city, after Amsterdam the most important one in the country because of its beneficial location on the water.
- The M in Middelburg definitely stands for ‘monumental’. The capital of Dutch coastal province Zeeland has a very rich history, which seeps from every museum, cobbled street and square. Whether you’re on a road trip through The Netherlands or visiting the Dutch coast for a few days, a day (or two) in Middelburg should be on your list.
- Once upon a time, Middelburg was the second city of The Netherlands, like Amsterdam’s second. The city was founded in the 9th or 10th century but started to gain power some three to four centuries later when the city became an important trading hub. During the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) Middelburg played a momentous part in the Dutch East India Company (VOC). During the Second World War, most of the historical city centre was completely bombed to bits, but it was all restored in the same style, making a stroll through Middelburg feel like a walk through history.
- In general, I would recommend more than a day trip to Middelburg , maybe an overnight stay in Middelburg or a weekend in Middelburg as It is definitely worth a visit though…
- There’s a lot to do and see in this picture perfect city and one day is definitely too short for that. Zeeland has a lot to offer for food and culture so don’t miss out on this chance to use Middelburg as a base for a lovely weekend in Middelburg.
- You can set up a walking tour to see a lot of places in Zeeland or you can opt to pay for admission at museums or just enjoy walking around like I did mostly.
- As of today, the city of Middelburg has a little over 39.000 citizens, which is perfect really. Walking through the small city you find that it has a calm overall feeling. There is not much noise and especially not of cars, besides the area of the central station. It is beautiful and truly worth a visit.
- WHERE TO STAY IN MIDDELBURG
- THINGS TO DO IN MIDDELBURG
- GO ANTIQUE SHOPPING
- Middelburg is one of the best Dutch cities to shop for antiques. Along Langeviele, you’ll find numerous antique shops to step into. (I recommend carrying extra cash if you intend to buy something.)
- Airbnb could never go wrong in Middleburg, you can get a lovely airbnb from $42 per night or decide to stay in one of the most unique places to stay in terms of history and location is the boutique hotel, the Roosevelt. Many people don’t know that the Roosevelts (as in the American President) originally came from Zeeland. This hotel was set up by his great-grandchildren and it’s right in the heart of the city center.
- There are also some other beds and breakfast. Luckily for me my brother and his lovely wife lives there and were great hosts too.
- STROLL AROUND THE HISTORIC CITY CENTER OF MIDDELBURG
- The historic center of Middelburg is absolutely stunning. One of my favorite parts of Middelburg was walking around the historic city. This town was originally fortified to protect against the Vikings, however it received city rights in 1217. It has served as a major hub for trade in the Netherlands due to its proximity to Belgium and the short journey to the United Kingdom. Part of the city was destroyed during World War II, but it’s been beautifully rebuilt.
- STOP FOR SOME TRADITIONAL BEVERAGES/SOUVENIRS
- You’ll pass a small number of souvenir shops as you’re walking in the historic center. Step into any one of these or a liquor store to pick up some of the unique liquors produced in Zeeland.
TAKE IN THE STADSHAL
- It’s very hard to miss the iconic and breathtaking former city hall of Middelburg, one of the main attractions of the city. This stunning gothic halls is easily one of the most beautiful halls of the Netherlands. It was completed in 1520 when it was given its many turrets and red/white shutters. It’s now used only for weddings and by the local university, however it’s worth admiring it.
- The building took fifty years to complete, with the built starting at the end of the fifteenth century.
- On certain days, including Saturdays and Thursdays, there is a market in the center of Markt where you can purchase fresh vegetables and fruits as well as cheeses with a view of the stunning Gothic building.
- Middelburg town hall was voted the most beautiful town hall of The Netherlands. it must be said that the Middelburg town hall is a pretty impressive piece of historic architecture with a gothic front façade and classical sides from the 17th century. You can join a guided tour (tickets are €5 and sold in the tourist shop on the market) so you can see the splendid halls and tapestries inside.
- STOP FOR A SNACK AND DRINK WITH A VIEW
- Right underneath Lange Jan, you can enjoy some of Middelburg’s delicious local beer (or a coffee) with a snack at Eetkamer Likkepot. This cozy former hofje is now a lovely cafe with a picturesque courtyard and a homegoods store. It’s the perfect place to relax, get a late lunch, or hot chocolate (or a snack), and enjoy the moment.
- I think this Church was the most beautiful monument I saw, it was a pity I could not get in, it wasn’t opened at that time.
- This is one of the four domed churches of The Netherlands and dates back to 1667. An interesting detail is a skeleton above the main entrance, which refers to the mortality of humans. A fun fact is that this church has been built with the money that was largely raised with taxation on wine and beer.
- You cannot always visit this church.
- In May it opens on Tuesday from 10:30- 16:30.
- During high season (June-August) it opens on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:30- 15:30.
- In September: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30- 16:30
- The church was designed by Bartholomeus Drijfhout and Pieter Post
- and was built between 1648 and 1667.After Drijfhout died in 1651, the building was continued under the Leiden architect Arent van 's-Gravesande
- , who had just completed the Marekerk in Leiden. The white organ was built by Gebr. de Rijckere from Kortrijk in 1782. Two stained glass windows from 1664 still exist in the church, and the Klokkenstoel
- contains a bell by Claes Noorden and one by Jan Albert de Grave
- Other Churches in Middelburg
- Helige Maria Parochie Walcheren, rebuilt in 1952 after been destroyed during the war.
- There are many spectacular churches all throughout Middelburg. The one is bigger than the other while the next one is more detailed. All beautiful and with the same purpose, but so different. I always find it beautiful to see how churches differ per area.
Abbey of Middelburg
- The abbey is one of the most historical places of Middelburg and was built around the year 1100. The monastery was first created in Middelburg in 1127 when monks from Antwerp moved to Zeeland. Nowadays the abbey isn’t used anymore but there are city tours with great guides that will take you to the abbey. It became an abbey in the medieval era although much of the original building has been rebuilt due to fires. The surviving buildings are in the Medieval Gothic style. Many people refer to the tower as Lange Jan. It’s possible to climb the tower for views over Middelburg.
They will show you around the churches and the century-old hallways. Inside the abbey, there are also two main churches, Koorkerk (choir church) and Nieuwe Kerk (new church) and the tower, called Lange Jan (Long Jan). You can also take a walk through the abbey on your own. In the other parts of the abbey the Zeeuws Museum is located, more about that below, and there are offices of the province Zeeland. When you walk through the hallways of the abbey of Middelburg you will also see courtyards that are so beautiful that you have to sit and relax. The abbey complex even has an herbs garden. You can take a long, deep breath and enjoy the enormous size of the entire complex.
- The Middelburg Abbey stopped being used as an abbey in 1574 during the Siege of Middelburg. Part of the Spanish surrender included a provision that the clergy remained despite the abbey being closed. It was taken over by the local government and remained the “Hof van Zeeland.” It was used as the regional assembly for a period although today, it is part of the Zeeland museum while other parts are still used officially.
- You can visit the churches for free, though, if you want to climb the tower of Lange Jan to have the best view of Middelburg you would need to pay 4 euros. The view is definitely worth the climbing of 207 stairs, as the tower is more than 90 meters high. On a very bright day, you can look over the entire island of Walcheren. For the ones who didn’t know it yet, the province of Zeeland exists out of several islands that are connected with, mostly, bridges. The island that Middelburg is located on is called Walcheren.
- Zeeuws Museum
- The Zeeuws Museum is probably one of the best regional museums in The Netherlands and is situated in the cities old abbey, dating back to the 12th century. The giant complex also contains three churches and the regional government. But if you can tear yourself away from the pretty gothic arches and shutters, the Zeeuws Museum will offer exceptional regional treasures, such as traditional dresses, tapestries and jewelries .
- These were created in the 16th century after a sea battle against the Spaniards during the Eighty Years’ War. Besides that, it also houses a collection of contemporary art from the current province of Zeeland and much more. There are several expositions that change throughout the year, so there is always something new to explore. This museum is also located in a part of the Abbey of Middelburg, so at least the building itself is already beautiful to look at.
- The museum can be visited for wheelchair users whom can turn within 1,5 meters. The museum itself has two wheelchairs available.
- De Seismolen, Middelburg
There are several windmills scattered around Zeeland, but I visited “De Seismolen. This is the oldest windmill of Middelburg and was built in 1728. You can visit this mill when it is running.
- A tower mill is a type of vertical windmill consisting of a brick or stone tower, on which sits a wooden 'cap' or roof, which can rotate to bring the sails into the wind.
- Windmills in general had been known to civilization for centuries, but the tower mill represented an improvement on traditional western-style windmills. The tower mill was an important source of power for Europe for nearly 600 years from 1300–1900, contributing to 25 percent of the industrial power of all wind machines before the advent of the steam engine and coal power.
- It represented a modification or a demonstration of improving and adapting technology that had been known by humans for ages. Although these types of mills were effective, some argue that, owing to their complexity, they would have initially been built mainly by the most wealthy individuals.
- Boulevard is the most famous part of Vlissingen and spreads parallel to beach with various hotels and restaurants sprawling across the promenade. Nollestrand beach is also located at walking distance from boulevard and is truly amazing especially during summer time. It is a short distance by train from Middleburg.
- Bicycle culture
- The Netherlands has a reputation of being a great cycling destination. Nowhere else is cycling this established. There are even more bicycles than people here! The infrastructure is geared to cyclists: many roads have separate, dedicated cycle lanes for exclusive use by cyclists. Cyclists also have their own crossings and their own traffic lights. Cycle paths allow you to reach places you simply can’t get to by car. In the city, it is sensible to cycle behind each other. Outside the city, it is perfectly fine for two cyclists to cycle next to each other, you will find adults of all ages and even children cycling through the city.
- Antiques, vintage and second-hand shopping
- Middelburg has its fair share of big chain stores, but you can also shop at small boutiques and pretty concept stores. Sint Jansstraat, Herenstraat and Segeerstraat are the best streets to find some great antique, vintage and second-hand shops. Antique shop De Zwarte Leeuw is filled to the brim with fabulous crockery and glassware, while De Zeeuswe Jordaan is the place to buy design furniture and textiles.
- END THE DAY WITH A LOCAL BEER (OR TWO)
- Middelburg has some fantastic beer, for those who love beer De Mug, which has a wide selection of Dutch beers, and Stadsbrouwerij Middelburg for a great craft beer selection in a cozy cafe. Then there is the Forbidden Fruit homemade beer.
beautiful winter sunset