The town of Tholen has a rich history and is a must-see for visitors to Zeeland. It is a protected townscape for a reason: in addition to dozens of national monuments, large sections of city walls and other fortifications can be found around the town centre.

History of Tholen

Tholen was established in the 13th century as a tollbooth on the Eendracht, a former branch of the Scheldt River that lay between the island of Tholen and North Brabant. That is where the town gets its name: Tholen means the place where tolls can be charged. In 1366, the town was granted its city rights. You can still see parts of the characteristic star-shaped city walls around the town. The medieval street grid is also still visible.

Wandering through the town gives you an impression of what it was like to live in Tholen long ago. The Venkelstraat is one of the most beautiful places where you can see this.

The windmill on the city walls, named De Hoop, was built in 1736 by order of the city council. Because the trees along the canal held back the wind, the windmill’s height was increased by 5 metres, giving it a unique appearance. De Hoop is still used to mill corn.

High above Tholen looms the 14th-century tower of the Dutch Reformed Church. The tower was extended in the 15th century and now stands 49 metres high. The church was built in the Brabantine Gothic style in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The historic town hall was built around 1460, after a big city fire. It houses the oldest carillon clock in the Netherlands: it was built in 1458, and nine clocks were added in 1627. You can hear it play every 15 minutes. The square in front of the town hall was once used to try criminals. The last execution by sword was carried out here in 1750.


The Tholen bridge on the north side of the town connects the provinces of North Holland and Zeeland. This white arch bridge, which is part of the N286, crosses the Scheldt–Rhine Canal. South of the bridge you can find Tholen’s harbour. A marina with a historic shipyard sits near the old town centre. Between the marina and the old town centre, you can still see the remains of the former oyster beds. Oyster farming ended with the construction of the Oyster Dam, which changed the salt water to fresh. The 10.5-kilometre Oyster Dam, built between Tholen and Zuid-Beveland, is the longest dam in the Delta Works. The Bergse Diepsluis (deep lock), where maritime traffic moors, was built on the remains of the drowned city of Reimerswaal.

Various events take place throughout the year in Tholen. Check out our event calendar to learn what’s happening now.


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