Middelburg: a historic city with a rich architectural heritage. The city has an illustrious past to which today’s townscape bears witness. With its diversity of events, shops, bars and restaurants, Middelburg is vibrant and vivacious. A place where the locals themselves are happy to spend their time shopping or relaxing at a pavement cafe.
The middlemost burgh
Middelburg owes its name to the fact that it was once the middlemost ‘burg’ - or stronghold - on the island of Walcheren. In the 9th century, when the Vikings invaded, ramparts were constructed along the island’s coast. Middelburg was the middlemost of these and so acquired its name. Once the danger subsided in the Middle Ages, the town developed into a trading centre and in 1217 it was granted a municipal charter.
When the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was in its pomp, Middelburg became one of the most important cities in the Netherlands. In the space of 200 years, the shipyards here turned out no fewer than 300 seagoing vessels. These ships sailed to Asia to ply trade in spices, textiles and porcelain. There are still many buildings in Middleburg today to remind us of this Golden Age.
Second only to Amsterdam, Middelburg once had the largest number of historic buildings. Even today, there are still over 1100 listed structures in the old town. During the Second World War, Middelburg suffered much war damage. The city fire of Middelburg (shelling and bombing) in 1940 reduced a large part of the historic inner city to ashes. After the war, the city was rebuilt along traditional lines.
Middelburg is a city with its own character. There are several squares each with their own distinct allure. The shopping district has a healthy mix of nationwide chains and local traders. The area around the marketplace, in particular, has many bars and restaurants, with outdoor seating areas to add a dash of extra brio.
In addition to the weekly market, Middelburg regularly hosts other streetside events, including an art, crafts and antiques market, a second-hand book market, a fruit and vegetable market, a flea market and a night market. Check out our listings to stay up-to-date about events.
Find inspiration from the many great things that Middelburg has to offer. Take a trip on its canals, follow a town trail or simply discover the city at your own leisure.
Until 1574, Middelburg Abbey was a monastic community: this is the very spot where the city came into existence! After the Siege of Middelburg, the Abbey was taken over by the new government of Zeeland. The provincial administration continues to occupy the Abbey to this very day. In another part of the Abby houses the the Zeeuws Museum.