8 attraction tips in Zeeland
Yes, many of Zeeland’s attractions are on the cusp of land and sea, but you’ll be surprised at the wealth of inland options too. Keep your eyes open. Here’s some ideas to get you started, both coastal and upcountry.
Deltapark Neeltje Jans
Slap bang at sea, the Deltapark Neeltje Jans, former work island of the Delta Works, presents nature, culture and technology for your appreciation. It explains the 1953 flood disaster and the Works, offering a peep inside the massive barrier. ‘Awesome’, in the real sense. Visit the underwater world of the Oosterschelde in Aquapolis. Feed the seals, and watch them watch you as they caper through some silly antics.
The coastal village of Groede was part of the Atlantikwall project in the 1940s, a defensive line of forts and bunkers. The construction workers lived in the ‘bunkerdorp’ village. That grim stage in the theatre of war has now been turned into park by the name of ‘Groede Podium’. Today there are fun and games on the playgrounds and climbing frames, lookout tower and children’s farm. The bunkers stay silent about their past, happier sounds have washed over them now.
Scale down and do Walcheren in a day. The Mini Mundi park has a model of the whole island. Many well-known monuments have been painstakingly reproduced on a scale of 1 to 20, like Middelburg town hall and the nearby Lange Jan tower. Take in the Mini Mundi Express train, or let out some ferocious shrieks on the rollercoaster. Clamber about on the indoor climbing tower and volcano. The tiny tots can romp around with big blocks or in the ball pit.
Over in Kwadendamme in Zuid-Beveland, you’ll find a real jungle! Berkenhof’s Tropical Zoo has masses of exotic plants and animals, living or long gone. Get close to the dinosaurs and listen. The kids’ part of the jungle is real cool: they’ll soon be clambering around, and probably getting wet. If you’re happy to try, the real snakes will gently wind around your neck.
A Seal Sanctuary
Where do seals go when they’re poorly or lost? The lucky ones make it to the seal sanctuary (Zeehondenopvang) in Stellendam. They stay just as long as needed to return to nature on their own steam. You’ll see them close up, with the volunteers who tend them. Learn all about how these creatures live in the Ooster- and Westerschelde estuaries. The exhibition about rescuing people and animals also explores the roles of project partners like Rijkswaterstaat (the national infrastructure supremo) and KNRM, the national sea rescue agency. About the name: ‘A Seal zeehondenopvang’ is a play on words in Dutch. The word for sanctuary, or asylum, is ‘asiel’, which can also be pronounced ‘a seal’ (with a short a and a soft s).
Portaal van Vlaanderen
In Terneuzen is the aptly named Portaal van Vlaanderen information centre. Take a guided tour to learn about the sluice complex , the ships using it, the harbour and companies in the Kanaalzone on shore. Look ahead too, to 2022, when the large new complex, the Nieuwe Sluis, is to open for business.
Puff your way in original style across the pretty Zak van Zuid-Beveland, a Valuable Cultural Landscape. The Goes-Borsele steam train – a museum on wheels – will take you in hard ore soft authenticity from Goes to Hoedekenskerke. There are the old wooden benches in Third, or plusher seats in First and Second. When you’re replete from the attractions at the terminus, the train driver will deliver you back to base. He’ll whistle.
Museum on the flood disaster
The people of Zeeland have lived for centuries below sea level. They have seen on several occasions how floods have seized back chunks, some large, of their land. The 1953 flood disaster was the fiercest of these confrontations of people and sea. Then, a great many people lost their lives, their land and their livestock. That tragic time when Zeeland was flooded is respectfully recounted in the Watersnoodmuseum, alongside details of our ongoing struggle against the water.