Hulst, Netherlands


Hulst (Zeelandic and East Flemish: Ulst) is a fortified town in the Dutch province of Zeeland. It is the capital of the eponymous municipality of Hulst. Including Absdale, the city has 11,065 inhabitants (1 January 2020), making it sixth in Zeeland, behind Middelburg, Vlissingen, Goes, Terneuzen and Zierikzee.

Hulst profiles itself as the "most Flemish city" in the Netherlands. Especially the Burgundian lifestyle of the city of Hulst attracts Flemish tourists. The original dialect of Hulst and the surrounding (Catholic) villages is very different from the other Zeeland dialects and shows a strong continuity with the dialects in the north of the Waasland (Belgium, province of East Flanders). Hulst is located about 30 km from Antwerp.

Holly is mentioned in the medieval Van den vos Reynaerde. The fact is commemorated with a statue to Reynaert.

Hulst maintains a city link with Michelstadt in Germany.



Hulst originated in the 11th century as the settlement Hulust. Hulst received city rights from the Flemish count Philip of Alsace in 1180 and developed into an important fortified and port city. Initially, the Saxvliet was the main entrance to the harbor. The city flourished due to the presence of the harbor and the moernering that took place north of the city. The oldest Hulst seal from 1226 shows St. Willibrord. Later seals show a crowned lion rampant, which is still featured in the city's coat of arms.

The city rights were extended in 1350 and in 1413 permission was granted for the construction of defenses. In 1453 the city was almost completely destroyed during the Ghent Revolt (also called Salt War). From 1453-1477 the ramparts and gates were fortified, but the Gentenaren treasured the city again in 1485 and 1491.

In 1458 the Friars Minor settled in Hulst.

After the surrounding area was inundated in 1585, the Hellegat scoured and became the new harbor. In 1591 a siege was laid for Hulst for the first time, by Maurits van Nassau, the later Prince of Orange, who captured the city within five days. Five years later, a renewed siege took place, during which Hulst was recaptured by Albertus of Austria.

From 1615-1621 the city was provided with the extensive fortifications that can still be seen today by the Spanish. During the battle of Hulst in 1640, Hendrik Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz was killed. The Staatsen did not manage to take Hulst at the time. In 1645 the States under the leadership of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange laid siege to the city of Hulst and the Hulsterambacht again. They recaptured it from the Spanish. Under his rule, trade on the Scheldt was prohibited and Hulst lost its importance as a trading city. Hulst was formally part of the County of Flanders until 1648 (Peace of M√ľnster) with the rest of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and was a daughter city of Ghent.

Several abbeys had a refuge house in Hulst, including the Abbey of Boudelo, the Abbey of Cambron and that of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Ten Duinen.

The fortress proved to be able to withstand the French troops in 1702, but in 1747 the fortress came into French hands, which was ended in January 1749 as a result of the Treaty of Aachen (1748). The French captured the city again in 1792.

In 1795 the harbor was closed: The Hellegat was silted up and what was left of it was reclaimed. Building outside the fortress belt was not yet allowed, but in 1816 the fortress was closed and in 1845 it was bought by the city, and it remained intact. Only after 1860 did any development outside the fortress belt begin to emerge. A railway station was also built in 1871, but it was closed in 1952. In 1861 a Love Institute was established near the refugee house of the Baudeloo Abbey. This was pulled down in 1968. It was not until around 1920 that there were plans to expand outside the fortress belt.

Hulst was liberated on September 20, 1944 by the Polish 1st Armored Division. The Basilica of Saint Willibrord lost its spire during this process. This was later replaced by a concrete structure. Tuning forks surround the bells and at the top angels face the crucifix.

Since then, Hulst has expanded considerably. The territory of the municipality of Hulst was also expanded, due to the reclassifications of 1970 and 2003.



Although Hulst had a Friars Minor Monastery from 1448 to 1645, it took until the end of the 19th century before activities in this area were again developed.

The Marist Fathers originally came from France, where they had to leave in 1902 as a result of the secularization policy. Initially they moved to a house in Differt, where a juvenate was established. The house soon became too small and they settled in Hulst in 1909. A building designed by Otto Aloys was erected on Carmelweg 2 in 1910. The Apostolic School, which trained missionaries, was discontinued in 1967 and is today a regular school. The chapel contains Stations of the Cross and murals by Frans Loots, from 1920-1921. The latter depict episodes from the life of the missionary Pierre Chanel. The stained glass windows are from the studio of Joep Nicolas.
The Discalced Carmelites founded a monastery in Hulst in 1935. This was demolished in 1992.



The city of Hulst itself is a protected cityscape and thus one of the seventeen protected city and village views in Zeeland. The city has 68 national monuments, see List of national monuments in Hulst.

The Basilica of Saint Willibrord was built in the 15th century but was not completed until 1535. With the capture of Hulst by the States in 1645, the church became a Protestant, since the French era the church was shared with the Roman Catholics. Since 1930 it has been a Roman Catholic church again and became a basilica. Characteristic is the concrete spire that was placed on it in the 1950s after the previous one was destroyed in the Second World War.
The Protestant church, at 11 Houtmarkt, was inaugurated in 1930. It replaced the Willibrord Basilica, which passed to the Catholics. Parts of the interior of the then Willibrord basilica, namely the mid-17th century pulpit, the gentlemen's bench, chandeliers and choir screens, were moved along. The organ dates from 1971 and was manufactured by Fama & Raadgever. It is an expressionist-style brick building with a slender gable-roof tower designed by A.P. Wisse.
Refuge house Ten Duinen, at Steenstraat 28, was the refuge house of the Ten Duinen Abbey. It was built in the second half of the 16th century and replaced an earlier refugee house located on Potterstraat. It is a high house with a basement. In 1645 it lost its religious function and was usually called Princehof. Around 1800 a gin distillery was located in the building. The predecessor of the Museum Hulst regional museum, which was established in 2018, has been located there since 1979. The plastered facade was installed in 1860.
Refuge house Cambron, at Steenstraat 14, was the refuge house of Cambron Abbey. The abbey bought the building in 1562, before that it was located on the Overdamstraat. A Louis XVI style door frame was added around 1790. Mayor Pierssens lived there at the beginning of the 19th century, and from the beginning of the 20th century there are shops in the building.
Refuge house Baudeloo, at Baudeloo 20, was the refuge house of the Abbey of Boudelo. It is an L-shaped building with stepped gables and an octagonal stair tower in the inner corner. It was built in the third quarter of the 15th century. In 1584 it became a hospital. From the end of the 17th century to 1832 it was in the hands of the Von Raden family. From 1861 to 1987 it was a Love Institute, after which it became a music school.
The former Sint-Elisabethgasthuis, at Gentsestraat 18-24, was built in the 16th century and converted into four houses after 1645. They were later changed several times, for example number 20 has a shop front from 1895.
Hulst Town Hall is built in the Gothic style. Many paintings, old maps and engravings are on display in the town hall, including a work by Jacob Jordaens.
The former Gouvernementshuis, at Markt 24, is a wide building that was previously called De Rijkenborch and was originally built for the chapter of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Kortrijk. After 1645 the building was renovated and the governor, Hendrik van Nassau-Siegen, was seated in this house. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Seyditz family moved in and the house was again greatly modified in 1840. In 1973 it became a bank building, to be restored in 1990. The basement and the side steps are a reminder of the medieval origins of this house.
The Landshuis, at Steenstraat 36, was originally the Landthuys van het Hulster Ambacht, which was built in 1576, but destroyed in 1596. A new country house was built in 1655. It was remodeled in Louis XIV style around 1730. In the French era, the weapons of the craft and the Generality were cut away above the entrance. The building was then used as a district court and also had a prison. The house was restored in 1977-1978.
Hulst has a number of interesting houses. Many of these houses were renovated in a later period, but especially the building Steenstraat 3, from 1640, still has a natural stone stepped gable and a facing stone depicting a mill.
The Stadspomp is a hard stone pump from the mid-18th century.
The Stadsmolen is a round stone tower mill from 1792 that functioned as a steam mill.
The Reynaert monument at the Gentsepoort was built in 1938 by Anton Damen. It is a bronze fox in pilgrim's clothing climbing the stairs to King Nobel's court, depicted on a limestone slab. Originally it stood on the Markt, and after 1945 it was moved to the Gentsepoort.
If the fox preaches the passion (farmer watches your ducks) is a humorous sculpture group on the Market, in which the fox Reynaerde addresses six ducks. The ducks were made of boulders with bronze head and legs. The artwork was crafted by Chris Ferket.