Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands


Bergen op Zoom (Bergs: Bèrrege) is a city in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and the capital of the municipality of Bergen op Zoom. In writing, the name is sometimes informally abbreviated to BoZ. In nearby Flanders, the Belgian spelling Bergen-op-Zoom is sometimes used, for example on the signage along the Antwerp ring road. The municipality of Bergen op Zoom has 67,667 inhabitants on 1 August 2020, making it the ninth municipality in North Brabant and the 55th municipality in the Netherlands.



The name Bergen op Zoom has a number of explanations, including that of mountains as a harbor or referring to the height differences due to its location on the Brabantse Wal, and the word Zoom as the edge of the Brabantse Wal, or originating from the word soma, which swamp means. The name has nothing to do with the - later dug - canal De Zoom.



Origin and development

In Roman times there was a place of sacrifice near the current St. Gertrudiskerk, from which a large number of mini amphorae have been found. Roman coins, a Celtic signet ring and a statue of the Celtic god Sucellus have also been found. A temple may have stood on the site of this church.

traat / Hoogstraat. Thus the city developed, which was important to the Duke of Brabant as a forward bastion against the expansion of the County of Zeeland and the County of Holland.

The city of Bergen op Zoom was initially part of the land of Breda and was thus managed by Mr. van Breda until then. When Lord Arnoud van Leuven died in 1287, the land of Breda was split into two separate manors. This split was the result of inheritance law and the division between the descendants of two daughters of Godfried III van Schoten, see at the barony of Breda. This is how the land of Bergen op Zoom was created, with the city of Bergen op Zoom at its core. In 1533 this manor was elevated to a margraviate (marquisate), formally acquiring a higher rank than the barony of Breda. However, this did not increase its actual importance. Ecclesiastically, Mons belonged to the diocese of Liège; two descendants of the Van Bergen family became prince-bishop of Liège: Cornelis van Bergen and Robert II van Bergen. The members of the Van Glymes family held diplomatic functions, and also acted as lords and marquesses of Bergen op Zoom.

In 1801, the marquisate of Bergen op Zoom was purchased by the Batavian Republic and lost all its rights.


Trading city

Bergen op Zoom received city rights between 1198 and 1212. It is unclear exactly when the city acquired these, because the city archives were lost in a major city fire in 1397. Because the oldest (indirect) reference to Bergen op Zoom as a city dates from 1213, it is suspected that city rights were already obtained at the beginning of the 13th century. The city fire of 1397 destroyed almost the entire city.

It concerned two houses, De Olifant and De Draeck, on the Grote Markt. The current Hotel de Draak, at 38 Grote Markt, is located in a building from 1500 that is the result of a major renovation. The barrel vaulted cellars date back to the 14th-century building. De Olifant, on the right hand side adjacent to De Draak, was a gatehouse over Sint-Annastraat and was purchased in 1544 and added to the Bergen op Zoom Town Hall.

The first known wall of the city was built from 1330-1335. The wall had a round shape that can still be found in the course of the current Westersingel, Noordsingel, Van de Rijstraat, St.-Josephstraat, Kloosterstraat, and Koepelstraat. There were four city gates, of which only the Lady Gate was ultimately preserved since it served as a prison gate. On May 7, 1397, the city burned down almost completely. The Nieuwe Markt (today's Sint-Catharinaplein), which was built north of the Grebbe at the end of the 14th century, was used as a fish market around 1400. The Grebbe gradually became more and more overfed.

In 1444, a fire again reduced a large part of Bergen op Zoom to ashes. The Korenmarkt was established in 1482, followed by streets such as Roskamstraat and Lindebaan.

The Havenkwartier was created outside the walls, west of the city center. The harbor quarter was walled in from 1484-1491. From 1505-1508 a wall was built on the west side, provided with two city gates and a water gate, on which the Lievevrouwepoort remained in use as a prison.

The city on the border of the County of Zeeland, the County of Flanders and the Duchy of Brabant developed into an important trading city and had a cloth and pottery industry. The current Eastern Scheldt was then the Scheldt estuary and thus the entrance to Antwerp. However, access to the city was not easy: first one had to sail through a winding creek, to eventually arrive at the dug Oude Haven. The Markt could be reached from there via the Lievevrouwenstraat. From the mid-14th century onwards, two annual fairs were held, on which English cloth, wool and madder were traded.


Garrison town

From 1530, the importance of Bergen op Zoom as a trading city declined. In that year the Sint-Felix flood took place and after this the Oosterschelde started to silt up and the Westerschelde gradually became the main access road to Antwerp. Added to this came the troubles of the Eighty Years' War. In 1580, the so-called Soldiers' Fury took place, in which much of the ecclesiastical property was destroyed by the Staatsgezinden. Bergen op Zoom took a strategic position on the border of north and south, and when Parma advanced from the south in 1588, he tried to take the city by means of the Siege of Bergen op Zoom. This siege was eventually repulsed. In order to be well prepared for repeated siege, fortifications were constructed by Adriaen Anthonisz and David van Orliëns. Indeed, the Spanish, now led by Spinola, laid siege to the city again in 1622. This renewed Siege of Bergen op Zoom could be resisted by the reinforcements brought in from the sea. The song Merck how sterck by Adriaen Valerius is based on this siege.

Bergen op Zoom had since been transformed from a trading town into a garrison town. In addition, the influence of the marquis was also greatly reduced. Between 1698 and 1713, the fortifications were radically modernized by Menno van Coehoorn. The old city walls were demolished and the fortress became part of the West Brabant water line. However, during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1747, the French were able to take the city called La Pucelle (The Virgin). This concerned the Siege of Bergen op Zoom of 1747. The city was defended by the elderly general Cronström. Large parts of the city were destroyed by the French during the capture. The Sint-Getrudiskerk was also heavily damaged.

An explosion in 1831 at the powder magazine "De Stoelemat" caused just as much damage, now in the vicinity of the Gevangenpoort.

In 1867 the fortress was closed and from 1868-1890 it was dismantled. This is not to say that the garrison disappeared. A number of barracks continued to exist for a long time, namely:

Cort Heyligers Kazerne (1939-2002), at Heelulaan 50, see also: Gijsbertus Martinus Cort Heyligers.
Great Arsenal barracks (from 1880)
Oranje Nassau Barracks or Korenmarkt
Wilhelmina Kazerne (1899-1971), now music school
Military Hospital on Wouwschestraat

Some military heritage was thus also preserved.

In 2010, while digging in his garden, a resident accidentally discovered a part of the underground tunnel system that was part of the Ravelijn "Antwerp". As far as is known, the corridor is the only corridor system to a design by Menno van Coehoorn in the Netherlands that is still intact [3] and is, together with a raveline, the only remaining remnant of the fortifications.


New time

From an economic point of view, in addition to trade, activities such as the madder industry and pottery were also of great importance. The latter was the main activity in the 17th and 18th centuries. Fishing was also important, including weather fishing for anchovies.

The gardeners were well-known in Bergen op Zoom in the 19th and 20th century. They often descended from Catholic 'immigrants' from the Flemish Kempen and the rest of West Brabant, and had already formed a certain class in the city since the end of the 18th century. The Bergse gardeners were mostly smaller farmers who devoted themselves to the needs of the soldiers stationed in the city; a very diverse assortment of fruit and vegetables. They gained a lot of knowledge about growing all these crops at the same time, and so they had no specialization, as was the case with most farmers elsewhere. In order to keep this knowledge (often from an economic point of view) within these horticultural families, it was preferable for marriages between these families. In this way a certain stand was created in Bergen op Zoom, which later also occupied itself with the establishment of the R.K. Boerenbond Veiling and was active in several mutual associations and societies. The best-known 'horticultural families' were / are the Franken, Verdult, Nuijten, Hopmans, Musters families (with origins in the widespread Tilburg family Mutsaerts), Hagenaars, Crusio, Bruijs, Withagen, Van Inneveld and Dietvorst.

Industrialization also started to take off. Gieterij Asselbergs was the first of a series of iron foundries. Three sugar factories appeared, the first in 1863, SA Sucreries de Breda et Berg-op-Zoom, known as De Zeeland since 1917 and closed in 1930. In 2015 De Zeeland turned into a shopping center. In 1899 the Zuid-Nederlandsche Molasse-Spiritusfabriek was built and there was also a potash refinery. The opening of the railway station and the removal of the fortress, allowing for urban expansion plans, also provided economic impulses.


But despite the development of some industry and connection to the railway network, Bergen op Zoom remained clearly on the periphery from a national point of view. An English travelogue from 1884 offers an impression through the eyes of that time: The history of the famous siege of 1749 made us stop at Bergen op Zoom, a clean, dull small town with white houses around an oblique market and the heavy tower of the Sint-Gertrudiskerk, but there was little worth seeing and we soon continued our way to the rich fields of South Beveland.

The liberation of Bergen op Zoom took place on October 27, 1944, by Canadian soldiers. Bergen op Zoom has a Canadian military cemetery for more than 1000 war dead.

From 1959 to 1964, the Theodorus harbor was built and new industry arose in its vicinity and beyond, such as GE Plastics (1971) and Philip Morris (1980).

In 1950 and 1964, parts of the Oude Haven were filled in and in 1960 they wanted to implement a plan (Plan-Ranitz) to make the city center accessible to car traffic. This plan was not fully realized, but in 1970, as part of this plan, the area around the Gevangenpoort was demolished, the Westersingel was constructed and, among other things, the Stoelemat event hall and a large number of homes were built.

The implementation of the Delta Works and the construction of the Scheldt-Rhine Canal (1975) were of great importance. This led to the construction of dams such as the Oesterdam (1979-1986) and the Markiezaatskade (1980-1983). As a result of all this, the open connection with the Oosterschelde had disappeared and the Markiezaatsmeer, the Zoommeer and the Binnenschelde, among others, were created. Shallow areas such as Molenplaat and Bergse Plaat were drained. The Molenplaat became a nature reserve and a residential area was created on the Bergseplaat.


Ecclesiastical History

The oldest church in Bergen op Zoom is the Sint-Gertrudiskerk. The devotion to Saint Gertrudis stems from the Saint Gertrudis Chapel in nearby Borgvliet.

The existence of the St. Gertrudiskerk dates back to the 13th century. It was rebuilt in 1350 to be elevated to a collegiate church in 1428. The church was repeatedly enlarged, but also destroyed several times by fire and war. From 1580 to 1966 the church was in the hands of the Reformed. From 1987 it became a Catholic church again.


Protestant Churches

In 1927 the (reformed) evangelistic association built a small church at 7 Williamstraat. In 1966 this became a reformed church, after the St. Gertrudiskerk was abandoned. Eventually, the Reformed churches went into the -grower- Reformed church. The building on Williamstraat is now Church Center "De Ark", while the Chinese Protestant community also uses it.

In 1891 a reformed church was built on the Moeregrebstraat. In 1928 they moved to a new building at Bolwerk Zuid 134. In 1995 this became a Samen-op-Wegkerk, later PKN. The church is now called: Ontmoetingskerk.

In 2010 the members of the Reformed Churches moved into the Emmaus Church.

Further religious groups related to Protestantism are the New Apostolic Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses, those churches in converted houses and the like.


Catholic churches

While the central church remained in Protestant hands after the French era, Catholics were able to move into their Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumption in 1829. This was withdrawn from worship in 1987 and converted into a theater.
The Sint-Antonius Abtkerk was built in 1865 at Rembrandtstraat 52 in Nieuw-Borgvliet, after a parish had been founded there in 1864. A new church was built in 1929, which was destroyed by acts of war in 1944. In 1951, a new basilica-style church was built. In 2000 it was withdrawn from worship and eventually it became a community center.
The Martyrs of Gorcum Church was built in 1905 in neo-Gothic style and was also one of the first Christocentric churches. The architect was W. Vergouwen. In 1983 she was withdrawn from worship and scrapped in 1987.
The Sint-Jozephkerk was built in 1913 at Bredasestraat 3 in neo-Gothic style. Jan Stuyt was the architect. In 1969 the church was withdrawn from worship and demolished in 1972.
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Lourdeskerk was built in 1928 at Prins Bernhardlaan 66, in the 't Fort district, south of the city center, where a parish was created after 1910. Here too there is a Christocentric church, now with expressionist and neo-Romano-Byzantine features. Joseph Cuypers and Pierre Cuypers Jr. were the architects.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was built in 1952 on Piusplein, east of the city center, in the style of the Bossche School. In 2014 the church was withdrawn from worship.


The Divine Providence Church was built in 1963 at Van Heelulaan 73, in a residential area southeast of the city center. The church was built in the style of modernism. In 2014 the church was withdrawn from worship and demolished in 2016.
The Emmaus Church was built in 1967 at Korenberg 90 in the new Noordgeest district. The church was closed in 2006 and sold in 2010 to the Reformed Churches, which already formed their own community, but did not yet have a church building.


Jewish community

A Jewish community existed in Bergen op Zoom since the early 18th century. It had a cemetery since 1783 and a synagogue since 1832.



Bergen op Zoom has two mosques:
The Mosque El Feth of the Moroccan Islamic Cultural Association, located at Oude Stationsstraat 37 / 37a.
The Turkish Ulumoskee or Grand Mosque, at Van Heelulaan 77. This building, equipped with a minaret, was inaugurated in 2009.



During the heyday of Bergen op Zoom, from 1470-1530, Friars Minor, Cell Brothers and Cell Sisters also settled in the city. The Reformation ended this in 1580.

The following monasteries have been located in Bergen op Zoom from the 19th century:

Monastery of the Franciscan Sisters of Bergen op Zoom with Saint Catherine's chapel, since 1838, on the current Sint-Catharinaplein. Since 1882 also on the Van Dedemstraat.
The Franciscans of Roosendaal settled in a building at 2 Burgemeester van Hasseltstraat in 1858 and provided education, after the Franciscans of Etten had done this from 1836-1858. In 1907 they also founded a training school. The sisters left in 1980.
Monastery of the Brothers of Huijbergen, at Hoogstraat 23. It was founded shortly after 1890 and the activities were expanded in 1901 with a training school. In 1977 the brothers left.
The Priestly Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus started a juvenate in 1900. In 1903 a new building was moved into the Antwerpsestraatweg, which also housed a minor seminary. In 1953 the institute was recognized as a gymnasium and in 1967 the boarding school was closed. In 1985 they moved to a new building at Buitenvest 54, from which they left before 2011.
Because of the French secularization policy, the Discalced Carmelites came to Bergen op Zoom from Chartres in 1901 and settled in 1904 at Halsterseweg 24 in the Monastery of the Most Holy Heart of Jesus, to leave in 1970 for Huijbergen, where they left the Monastery of Carmel. Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In 1912 the Franciscans came from Oudenbosch to Bergen op Zoom. They settled at 2 Boxhornstraat and provided education. After 1929 they also provided education in the Sint-Agne school for special education. The sisters left in 1985.
From 1916-1971, the Franciscans of Oudenbosch were located in the Gerardus Majella Monastery at 71 Rembrandtstraat.
The Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus lived from 1927-1979 in the Sint-Jozef Monastery at Bernadettestraat 2. They provided education.
The Brothers of Oudenbosch had a retirement home on the Molenzichtweg from 1939-1993.



The city center of Bergen op Zoom is home to numerous monuments and part of the city center is a protected cityscape (with extension). The city map still shows the round shape of the city walls with the harbor quarter on the western side. However, the harbor was partly filled in. In total, the city has almost 500 national and municipal monuments. Bergen op Zoom is a member of the Dutch Association of Fortified Cities.

The Markiezenhof is a Brabantine Gothic city palace and residence of the Lords and later the Marquises of Bergen op Zoom.
The Sint-Gertrudiskerk, which suffered severe damage in a fire in 1972 and whose tower, the Peperbus, overlooks the Grote Markt.
The Grote Markt, with a number of historic buildings on this square.
Bergen op Zoom City Hall, a late Gothic building on the Grote Markt.
The Church of the Virgin Mary Assumption, Grote Markt 32, from 1829, now Theater De Maagd.
The Synagogue, Koevoetstraat 39, from 1832.
The Sint-Catharinakapel, Sint-Catharinaplein 25, from 1895, is the monastery chapel of the Franciscans of Bergen op Zoom. The neo-Gothic chapel was designed by C.P. from Genk. In 1933 the chapel was enlarged by J. and W. Oomen. The chapel contains stained glass windows from the founding period and from 1933.
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Lourdeskerk, Prins Bernhardlaan 66, from 1928
De Ontmoetingskerk, Bolwerk Zuid 134, from 1928
The Antonius Abtkerk, Rembrandtstraat 25, from 1951
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church on Piusplein, from 1952
Chapel of Saint Gertrude

The Lievevrouwepoort or Prison Gate, a remnant of the city walls from the middle of the 14th century.
The Former Gouvernement, Wouwsestraat 1, was built in 1668 on the basis of a number of medieval buildings, of which some cellars and walls have survived. The Government was rebuilt to its present form in 1770-1771. From 1819-1922 it functioned as a military hospital. The 13th-century Sint-Maartensgasthuis was demolished in 1771 and a garden was built on its place. In 1993 the Gouvernementshuis was converted into a shopping center. The garden became a square in which the outlines of the former Gasthuis were placed.
The Spuihuis, Spui 1, is a neoclassical building from 1838. It still contains remnants of a warehouse that was the predecessor of the Spuihuis, such as a cellar. The Spuihuis was occupied by the harbor master. In the turret hangs a clock from 1723.
Military heritage includes:
De Blokstallen, Blokstallen 2-3, from 1745 resp. 1764, were military horse stables, nowadays used for the city archives resp. youth work.
The Groot Arsenaal, Rijtuigweg 44, dates from 1764. It has classicist gate frames with weapons, banners and war attributes depicted on them. In 1880 it was converted into barracks and today it is a military warehouse.
The Former Provoosthuis, Potterstraat 36, dates from 1783. The provost of the garrison lived here, as well as the court-martial and the military prison. The building has a classical façade. In 1814 it became a warehouse for the genius and today it houses the catering industry.
The Klein Arsenaal on Dubbelstraat is an ammunition depot from 1787. After 1880 it was a barracks and today it is a military depot again.
The Ravelijn Op den Zoom on the Corneel Slootmanslaan dates from 1702 and was part of the fortifications built by Menno van Coehoorn according to the New Dutch fortification system. There are still casemates, a cannon cellar and a gun gallery. The Ravelijn was restored in 1931-1932. The courtyard has been a public park since 1977.
The Waterschans or Zuydfort is located at the Kop van 't Hooft. The front wall can still be recognized by its curved barrel. Together with the disappeared Noordfort, it protected the harbor. The front wall is now part of the dyke of the Binnenschelde.
The Stadspomp on the Grote Markt, a hard stone pump from 1864 and originating from France or Belgium. It was placed on an originally 15th century well in 1985.
A neo-Gothic wrought iron fountain from 1914, on Burgemeester Stulemeijerlaan.
The houses from before the 1588 Siege of Bergen op Zoom include:
Grote Markt 5 or Onse Vrouwe has an oak timber frame from the 2nd quarter of the 15th century. The façade was originally made of gobertane stone. The building was restored from 1966-1968 and the remains of the old facade have been made visible again. The statue of the Virgin Mary under a Gothic canopy was renovated.
Grote Markt 38 ​​or De Draak is originally a 14th-century building, the current appearance of which dates from about 1500 and only the cellars still have their original age. It used to be an inn and is now a hotel.
Grote Markt 37 or Sint-Joris is an original 14th-century house that was renovated and enlarged in 1498 by order of candle maker Jan Herrents. Remains of 14th-century wall work and a cellar with 15th-century barrel vaults can still be found. The mansard roof and the molding facade date from 1897 and the renovation was commissioned by sculptor Henricus Franciscus Antheunis, who may also have made the facade ornaments. In 1918 the house was added to the adjacent hotel. In the 1930s, the rear house was fitted with an Art Deco staircase. The house was gradually restored between 1961 and 1985.
Fortuinstraat 3 or De Balanche still has late medieval cellars and beams, and 14th-century wall sections. The molding facade is from the mid-19th century.
Potterstraat 10 or De Kerre has a late 17th-century stone façade that was rebuilt in the Empire style in the second quarter of the 19th century. The front house was renovated around 1443 and the back house dates from the 16th century.
Potterstraat 22 or De Grote en de Kleine Linde was extended in 1494 and provided with an extra floor.
Grote Markt 11 or Huis Cranenborch has a side wall of brick with layers of sandstone. It was radically renovated around 1500.
After the siege, new houses were built, such as:
Fortuinstraat 15 or De Crone from 1590
Steenbergsestraat 9 or De Violette from 1593 with door frame from 1886
Noordzijde Haven 60 or Valkenborch is a corner house from 1600.

Lievevrouwestraat 56 or Oostenrijck from 1600, with Mannerist facade. The cornice is from 1750 and the wooden bottom facade from 1897. During the restoration of 1975, a painting from the 17th century was discovered.
Grote Markt 36 or De Borse was built in stone in 1612, preserving the cellars of the previous 15th-century house. Part of Hotel De Draak since 1980.
South side Haven 11 or Arcke Noë has a facade from the beginning of the 17th century, in which three facing bricks have been placed. The house has a large cellar.
further 17th-century facades can be found on the South side of Haven 27 (De Hollandsche Thuijn); Goudenbloemstraat 21-23 (Kleine Hof) from 1626; Dubbelstraat 4-4a or Lammeken from 1647; Sint-Catharinaplein 1-1c or Groot Rennenberg from 1648; and Zuidzijde Haven 79 or De Ooievaar from 1652. Furthermore, Lievevrouwestraat 29 or Het Wapen van Engeland with a brick facade from 1629; Lievevrouwestraat 41 of London, from 1647, a former brewery with a Mannerist facade on which, among other things, symbols of the brewing trade are applied.
Another wave of construction took place after the siege by the French in 1747, including: Hoogstraat 13 or Halle van Diest; Kerkstraat 23-31; Grote Markt 19 or De Engel from 1755. Hoogstraat 23-28 or De Grote en de Kleine Wildeman shows the merging of two houses in the second half of the 18th century.
Windmills in Bergen op Zoom are:
The Getijdenmolen on the Oude Vissershaven, was built in 1444 and was in use until 1887.
Windmill De Twee Vrienden in Nieuw-Borgvliet, a round stone windmill from 1890.
Industrial monuments include:
Complex of the Sucreries de Breda and the Berg op Zoom, a former sugar factory, South side Haven 39-41.
The former building of the Bavarian Beer Brewery Asselbergs-Van Heijst & Co, Brouwerijbaan 24, from 1873. Materials from the ruined fortifications were used for the construction.
Shed and office building of Rogier Nerincx Richter Iron Foundry, Wattweg 3, from 1882 and 1900 respectively.
Warehouse annex coffee roaster, Beursplein 5-5a, from 1884 and enlarged in 1907
Pakhuis, Potterstraat 51, with a facade from 1901.
Soap factory Adriaan Vermeulen, Wassenaarstraat 40-40a, from 1907
Distillery, Potterstraat 13-13a, from the early 20th century.
Water tower, from 1899, on the Parallelweg.
Filter building of the Water Supply Company from 1899, Mondafseweg 68-72.



The Historical Center Bergen op Zoom is located in the Markiezenhof. It owns, among other things, a historical museum, a fairground museum and a cartoon museum. The buildings also house a part of the library, a restaurant and the West Brabant Archive; the latter houses the archives of Bergen op Zoom, Roosendaal, Etten-Leur and others. and the archives of the Flemish municipalities of Essen and Kalmthout.