Dating back to the 9th century, Middelburg is the capital of the province of Zeeland and currently has a population of approximately fifty thousand.
Some interesting facts:
- Middelburg, located in the center of Walcheren, was one of the three fortified towns that protected the former island against the Norsemen. The other two were Domburg and Souburg.
- During the Golden Age Middelburg was the second most important trading city in the Dutch Republic after Amsterdam.
- The Koorkerk, which dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries has the oldest organ in the country, the Nicolaï organ, which was built in 1479.
- For a wonderful view of the city, you can climb the 207 steps that lead the top of the Lange Jan, the third tallest tower in the Netherlands.
- On May 17th 1940, during the German invasion of the Netherlands approximately one-third of the inner city was destroyed by bombs and artillery fire and the subsequent fires that raged through the city. Twenty-two civilians were killed, but had the city not been evacuated three days earlier, the casualties would have much more devastating. Six hundred buildings – most of them historic monuments – were destroyed, and eight hundred families were left homeless. After the War almost all buildings were restored to their original splendor.
- Middelburg's City Hall was voted the country’s second most beautiful building in 2007, after the top-placing modern Gas Board Head Office in Groningen.
- Zeeland’s most popular treats, all available in abundance in its capital, include Zeeuwse boterspeculaas (Gingerbread cookies), Zeeuwse suikerwafels (thin sugar waffles), Zeeuwse boterbabbelaars (butterscotch candies) which typically are sold in a souvenir tin. When in season locally sourced Mussels are a special treat!
For more details about Middelburg and its many historic sites, read our Travel feature in Issue 17 of Dutch the magazine.
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