Terneuzen, Netherlands


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 in the archives for the first time 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 in direct connection with the city of Ghent. The port of Terneuzen is first mentioned 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 a little southeast of the current city centre. The current Oude Vaart district bears witness to this. Terneuzen has been closely related to shipping since its origins, partly due to the canalized 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, which created the Braakman, an estuary 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 and damming. The capstone of this containment process was the Braakmandam in 1952, which considerably improved the land connection between East and West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. The dam also prevented the area behind from being flooded during the flood disaster of February 1953, but at the same time closed the mussel village of Philippine definitively from a connection with the sea.

Terneuzen is located in the predominantly Protestant Land of 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 Neuse on map), note the name Land van Axel.

In the old harbour, which was located on the site of the current Markt, goods were transhipped to be transported to Ghent by barge. In 1575 the Spaniards built a fortress there, named after Francesco de Aldano, the then governor. Under the leadership of Philip van Hohenlohe-Neuenstein, the States conquered this fort in 1583. Axel was thus in Spanish hands and Terneuzen in State hands - reason for Prince William of Orange to grant Terneuzen city rights on April 23, 1584, i.e. Terneuzen received its own law and a weekly market. The fortress was enlarged and reinforced to block the Western Scheldt. This fortress was known as Neuzen. Axel was conquered by the States in 1586. When Hulst was reconquered by the Spanish 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 incorporated into 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 Willem I, the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal was constructed during the years 1825-1827. As a result, the inner city of Terneuzen was wedged between two canal arms, the easternmost of which is known as Zijkanaal A. The high expectations of an economic boom in Terneuzen due to the construction of the canal did not immediately come true. This improved when railway lines from Terneuzen to Mechelen and Ghent were built around 1870. Terneuzen became an important transhipment and storage port for bulk goods. Incidentally, the Belgian revolution took place in 1830, in which Belgium became independent, but as a result of which trade came to a standstill for several years. In addition, Terneuzen was provided with new fortifications in 1833-1838, see Vesting Terneuzen for its history. In 1908 the fortress status was lifted, because the canal had been widened from 1901-1909. A new lock was built and the Markt and the Schoolyard were built on the Oude Haven, which was completely filled in in 1912. In 1915 the fortifications were excavated and in 1920 the Scheldt quay was constructed. 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 factory, but this company went bankrupt in 1903.

The Second World War started in Terneuzen on May 20, 1940 with the order from the Belgian military commander to the population to leave the city because of an imminent bombardment. 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 Watersnood 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 rose 1 meter in the lower part of the city center.

In the 1960s, a larger sea lock was installed, which improved accessibility by water. Terneuzen now became the location of the large international chemical company Dow Chemical (1962) and Philips (1961). Terneuzen thus became the economic heart of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Residential areas arose up to the Otheensche Kreek, and later even on the other side of this creek. In 2003, the Westerschelde tunnel was opened, the entrance to which is located west of the canal.




The Scheldeboulevard offers a view of the Western Scheldt and the shipping traffic that goes close to the coast here. Since 2000, numerous statues have been set up along this boulevard in the summer season.
The Arsenaal is a military building from 1833, and was part of the new Terneuzen fortress. Nowadays catering companies are located in the Arsenaal and the water cellars have been serving as wine cellars since 1997.
Monument De Vliegende Hollander by P. Griep, a ship in a former canal arm, at the 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 convent 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, erected on the site of the redoubt by mainly German mercenaries in November 1583 under the command of Philip van Hohenlohe-Neuenstein to resist an attack by Spanish troops.
The old Town Hall, located on the Noordstraat, characteristic building with tower. After obtaining city rights, a house was renovated with, among other things, building material from the ruins of the castle of the craftsman of Zaamslag. A radical renovation followed in 1647, in which the cellar was furnished as a "crymeneel ghevangenhuys". Also the seat of the "fourfold". 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 has today.
The current town hall, a brutalist style building.
Park on the Otheensche Creek.
The lock complex with visitor center Portaal van Vlaanderen.


Flying dutchman

Terneuzen is known, among other things, as the city of The Flying Dutchman, known from the opera of the same name by Richard Wagner. According to tradition, this God-rebellious captain Willem van der Decken originated from Terneuzen. Terneuzen has never been a home port for ships of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie. In the Golden Age, Terneuzen was a fairly small town whose economy was probably based on fishing and (small-scale) port-related storage and transshipment. The construction of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal in the years 1825-27 was an important driving force for the growth of Terneuzen as a port city.



The School Museum in Oud-Terneuzen, opened in 1997, displays a collection of school supplies from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since 2012, the museum has been housed in the former bank building of the National Bank (later ABN AMRO Bank) on Nieuwstraat. The building dates from 1919 and was designed by architect ir. H.F.M Mertens.


Nature and landscape

Terneuzen is located on the Western Scheldt, opposite the Pas van Terneuzen, a channel that is more than 50 meters deep in some places. Characteristic is the Scheldeboulevard. Terneuzen is located in a sea clay polder area at an elevation of approximately 1.5 metres, but the original polder land has been greatly modified by the construction of ports, industry and infrastructure. The most important waterway is the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal with associated side canals and harbours. In the east of Terneuzen you will find the Otheensche Kreek, which further inland changes into Spuireek, Gat van de Pinte, and the Grote and Kleine Dulper, near Zaamslag.


Coffee shops

Terneuzen is internationally known for its two coffee shops. The largest shop, Checkpoint, was frequented by French and Belgians; after all, the border is close by. In France, some websites are devoted to the possibility of obtaining soft drugs in Terneuzen, even with route planners. Partly due to this information, the flow of drug tourism has exploded since the year 2000. This influx caused a lot of nuisance and was difficult to control. Not only were there problems in terms of traffic and parking, but also in terms of safety and crime. The municipality of Terneuzen looked for a solution within its political possibilities, but the Belgian authorities protested against a possible move to the border. In 2007 and 2008, the Public Prosecution Service raided Checkpoint because there was a suspicion that there were too many soft drugs in the building. Since the last raid on Checkpoint, it has been closed, which is why the French and Belgians now usually opt for coffee shops in Goes. In 2009, the owner was accused of leading a criminal organization and a lawsuit was being prepared.


Traffic and transport

There is a bus connection from Connexxion to Goes, Middelburg, Hulst, Oostburg, Kloosterzande, Zelzate and Ghent.

Regional roads
The N61 is partly provincial and partly national and runs from Schoondijke to Terhole.

The N62 is a provincial road that goes just near Goes through the Western Scheldt tunnel past Terneuzen on the west side of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal over the bridge of Sluiskil towards the border with Zelzate. In 2016, the Sluiskil tunnel was taken into use.

There has also been a rail connection with Ghent, the railway line 54 Mechelen - Terneuzen and railway line 55 Ghent - Terneuzen. However, it was closed to passenger traffic in 1950 because the operation was not profitable. Line 54 is now broken up between Sint-Niklaas and Axelse Vlakte; line 55 is still used by freight trains from Terneuzen via Sluiskil, Sas-van-Gent, Zelzate, Wondelgem and railway line 58 to Merelbeke-Vorming and vice versa. In Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, this line, together with the connected industrial connections (including the remainder of line 54 between Axelse Vlakte and Sluiskil), is the only remaining railway line in use.

There are talks to reopen a passenger connection with Ghent. Nowadays, this connection has been partly taken over by Connexxion buses that run from Middelburg to Ghent at weekends and during the summer on working days.



In Terneuzen there are 14 primary schools and 1 for secondary education, namely Het Lodewijk College. There is also a school (Scalda) for secondary vocational education (mbo) and adult education, where a number of HZ University of Applied Sciences propaedeutic phases can also be followed.



The Port Days take place every year in June, a celebration focused on the port and the water. There are markets and well-known music, and there is a fair. Also in June is Schelde Jazz, a major jazz festival. In July Festival de Ballade, on the head of Kanada with various artists; local and national acquaintances. The Scheldetheater offers concerts and plays all year round. In addition, there is a medium-sized fair every year in September.