Vlissingen

 

Vlissingen is a town (city) and a municipality in the Dutch province of Zeeland, located on the north side of the estuary of the Western Scheldt on the former island of Walcheren. The city of Vlissingen has approximately 33,000 inhabitants. The municipality has 44,132 inhabitants (August 1, 2020, source: CBS) and an area of 344.98 km², of which 310.84 km² is water.

The municipalities of Vlissingen also include the towns of Oost-Souburg (10,500 inhabitants), West-Souburg (1000 inhabitants) and Ritthem (500 inhabitants); West-Souburg is considered a district of the town of Vlissingen.

The municipalities of Middelburg and Vlissingen together form a coherent urban area (sometimes referred to as "the core city of Zeeland") with more than 93,000 inhabitants.

The first mention of Vlissingen was in 1247.

 

History

At the beginning of the Eighty Years' War, the city was in Spanish hands. Vlissingen was the second city (after Den Briel) to liberate itself from the Spaniards on April 6, 1572. Unlike Den Briel, Vlissingen was not liberated by the geuzen but by its own inhabitants. In 1585, Vlissingen became British property: Queen Elizabeth obtained it as collateral, along with Ostend, Brielle and Fort Rammekens, in exchange for military and financial aid in the fight against Spain. This in the context of the Treaty of Nonsuch. In 1616 these areas were returned to the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Before Napoleon incorporated the whole of the Netherlands, Vlissingen was also in French hands for a while under the Treaty of Fontainebleau. At that time, the city did not belong to the Kingdom of Holland, as much of the rest of the present-day Netherlands did, but became part of the district of Eeklo in the Scheldt department.

In the 1930s, Mayor C.A. van Woelderen to increase the city's economy on the basis of the three pillars of tourism, port and industry. To stimulate tourism, an airport had already been built in the north of Vlissingen in the 1920s. The harbors of the city were enlarged and Vlissingen was promoted as a seaside resort. A bathing beach and a walking pier were set up for this.

In the Second World War, the pier was demolished again by order of the German occupiers, to prevent a landing by the Allies. In October 1944 Vlissingen was flooded by the Inundation of Walcheren. In this Allied plan they bombed several dikes and flooded most of Walcheren. The German positions weakened and the Allies gained better access to the Scheldt and the port of Antwerp.

Shipping and shipbuilding have always been of great importance to Vlissingen. Over the years, the De Schelde shipyard has continued to grow and, as a result, part of the historic center of Vlissingen has been demolished in favor of large factory halls. When De Schelde left the city center after 120 years and settled in the new Vlissingen-Oost port area, a large gap remained in the middle of the city. This area has been bought by the municipality to build a new housing estate called the Scheldekwartier. The credit crisis turned this project into a major headache, which left the municipality on the brink of financial collapse. Vlissingen is now an Article 12 municipality and the municipality and the development of the Scheldekwartier are scraping out of a valley.

 

Naming

There are several stories about the origin of the name Vlissingen. For example, the story goes that Sint Willibrord arrived in Vlissingen in the 7th century with a bottle. He shared the contents of this bottle with beggars and tried to convert them. A miracle happened, so the content of the bottle did not decrease. When the bishop noticed that the beggars would not listen to his words, he gave them the bottle and named the place Flessinghe.

Another source states that the name comes from an old ferry house, to which a bottle was attached by way of superstition. The monk Jacob van Dreischor, who visited the place in 967, called the ferry house at that time: the veer aan de flesse. Because many places at that time were suffixed with -inge, the name later corrupted to Vles-In.