Terneuzen (Zeeuws: Terneuzen or Neuzen) is a Dutch town in the province of Zeeland in the eponymous municipality of Terneuzen, of which it is the capital. Terneuzen, located in the Zeeuws-Vlaanderen region, is one of the last places to receive city rights. Terneuzen has 25,450 inhabitants (2020). This makes it the fourth city in Zeeland.

Terneuzen fulfills a central function in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen; there is, for example, a relatively large regional hospital, theater, stage, (indoor) swimming pools, ski hall Skidôme Terneuzen, various shopping centers and shopping streets and a cinema.

The Port of Zeeland, which includes both the ports of Terneuzen and Vlissingen, is seen as the third port in the Netherlands after Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

The most important water supplies for recreational purposes are the Otheensche Kreek, the Westerschelde and the Braakman. West of the canal is Dow Chemical's main facility in Europe. This chemical giant is currently the largest employer in the province of Zeeland.



The city of Terneuzen was called Ter Nose in the twelfth century and appears for the first time in the archives in 1325. Other forms also occur, such as in 1350 Ter Nessen. The word nesse (= nisse) means headland. Terneuzen was located on a canal that was directly connected to the city of Ghent. The port of Terneuzen is mentioned for the first time in 1460.

Around 1375 there was a chapel for seafarers, which probably belonged to the decayed parish of Vremdyc or Willemskerke, on the aforementioned headland. Terneuzen probably originated along the Soute Vaert (or Zoutvliet, Oostvaart or Oude Vaart), which formed the connection between the 'Blyde' (also called 'Bleie' or 'Blide') and the Honte, which is an old name for the Western Scheldt. This canal may have been located just southeast of the current city center. The current district of Oude Vaart bears witness to this. Terneuzen has been closely related to shipping since its origins, partly due to the canalised watercourse from Gent-Overslag and Axel to the Honte via the aforementioned Soute Vaert or Oude Vaart.

However, the Oude Vaart fell out of use due to a flood in 1376, creating the Braakman, a sea arm that reached far inland. This has created a natural waterway to Ghent. Over time, the Braakman has changed into a large creek due to silting up and damming. The final part of this damming process was the Braakman Dam in 1952, which significantly improved the land connection between East and West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and prevented flooding of the area behind in the flood disaster of February 1953, but which at the same time closed the mussel village Philippine permanently from a connection. with sea.

Terneuzen is located in the predominantly Protestant Land van Axel. The underlying map clearly shows that this was an island and that the whole area looked very different compared to the current situation. At the time, Axel was more important and larger than Terneuzen (Ter Neuze on map), note the name Land van Axel.

In the old port, which was located on the site of today's Markt, goods were transhipped to be transported by barge to Ghent. In 1575, the Spaniards built a fort there, named after Francesco de Aldano, the then governor. Under the leadership of Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein, the States conquered this fort in 1583. Thus Axel was in Spanish and Terneuzen hands - reason for Prince William of Orange to grant Terneuzen city rights on April 23, 1584, that is to say Terneuzen got its own jurisdiction and a weekly market. The fortress was enlarged and reinforced to block the Western Scheldt. This fortress was known as Noses. Axel was captured by the States in 1586. When Hulst was recaptured by the Spaniards in 1596, the Terneuzen fortress gained even more significance and was further expanded. After the Peace of Münster (1648), the fortifications became superfluous.

On October 23, 1794, the French entered Terneuzen and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen was annexed to the French Empire, with the Scheldt as the border river between France and the Batavian Republic. The occupation of Terneuzen ended on February 2, 1814.

On the initiative of King William I, the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal was constructed during the years 1825-1827. The inner city of Terneuzen came to be wedged between two canal arms, the easternmost one known as Zijkanaal A. The high expectations of an economic revival of Terneuzen due to the construction of the canal were not immediately realized. This improved when, around 1870, railway lines from Terneuzen to Mechelen and Ghent were built. Terneuzen became an important transhipment and storage port for bulk goods. Incidentally, the Belgian Revolution took place in 1830, whereby Belgium became independent, but which brought trade to a standstill for several years. Moreover, Terneuzen was provided with new fortifications in 1833-1838, see Fortress Terneuzen for the history thereof. In 1908 the fortress status was lifted, because the canal was widened from 1901-1909. A new lock was constructed and the Markt and Schoolplein were constructed on the Oude Haven, which was completely filled in in 1912. The fortifications were excavated in 1915 and the Scheldekade was constructed in 1920. The Noorderkanaalhaven (1916), the Zuiderkanaalhaven (1922) and the Zevenaarhaven (1937) were dug along the canal. In 1899 another attempt was made to establish a steel mill, but this company went bankrupt in 1903.


The Second World War started in Terneuzen on 20 May 1940 with the order of the Belgian military commander to leave the population in connection with an imminent bombing raid. The Germans entered the city on May 24. The war ended in Terneuzen in early September 1944 with the flight of German troops across the Scheldt. The Poles entered the city on September 20.

On February 1, 1953, a combination of very high tide and a northwesterly storm caused the Flood Disaster. In Terneuzen, the water flowed over the dike of the fishing harbor and the height at the former post office, now the parking garage on the Nieuwstraat, so that the water in the lower part of the city center was 1 meter high.

A larger sea lock was built in the 1960s, which improved accessibility over water. Terneuzen now became the seat of the large international chemical company Dow Chemical (1962) and Philips (1961). Terneuzen thus became the economic heart of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Residential areas rose up to the Otheensche Creek, and later even on the other side of this creek. In 2003 the Westerscheldetunnel was opened, the access of which is located to the west of the canal.

The Scheldeboulevard offers a view of the Western Scheldt and the shipping traffic that passes close to the coast here. In the summer season, numerous statues have been set up along this boulevard since 2000.
Het Arsenaal is a military building from 1833, and was part of the new fortress Terneuzen. Today, catering establishments are located in the Arsenaal and the water cellars have served as a wine cellar since 1997.
Monument The Flying Dutchman by P. Griep, a ship in a former canal arm, near Herengracht.
The Willibrordus Tower is the remains of a neo-Gothic Catholic church that was consecrated in 1915 and demolished in 1968. The former presbytery and the monastery chapel are still intact, and the nave of the church is indicated by rows of trees.
Oud-Terneuzen, a collection of old streets and houses in the center of Terneuzen, situated on the old 16th-century fortifications.
The Moffenschans, 16th-century farmhouse, rampart erected by mainly German mercenaries in November 1583, led by Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein, to resist an attack by Spanish troops.
The old Town Hall, located on Noordstraat, characteristic building with tower. After obtaining the city rights, a house was renovated, including building materials from the ruins of the castle of the craftsman of Zaamslag. 1647 dramatic renovation, cellar was converted into "crymeneel ghevangenhuys". Also seat of the "court of honor". During the French occupation, the tower was lowered in 1807 to make way for a semaphore for naval communications in the Antwerp-Vlissingen line. In 1859 the tower got the appearance it is today.
The current town hall, a building in the style of Brutalism.
Park on the Otheensche Kreek
The lock complex with the Portaal van Vlaanderen visitor center.

Flying dutchman
Terneuzen is known as the city of The Flying Dutchman, known from the opera of the same name by Richard Wagner. According to tradition, this captain Willem van der Decken, who rebelled against God, came from Terneuzen. However Terneuzen has never been a home port for ships of the Dutch East India Company. In the Golden Age, Terneuzen was a fairly small place whose economy was probably based on fishing and (small-scale) port-related storage and transhipment. The construction of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal in the years 1825-27 was an important motivation for the growth of Terneuzen as a port city.