Frequently called Menheerse, the town of Middelharnis is popular thanks to its old centre, brimming with shops. The people of Zeeland adore shopping an d’n diek too.
Middelharnis gets its name from being the middle one of the ‘Vier Hernissen’ salt marsh area. Its location on the Haringvliet water made it a bustling fishing village in the 15th century. Old warehouses and the 1675 wharf still speak of those bygone days.
A sculpture called the ‘Kofjekokertje’ marks the entrance to the harbour. It depicts a young lad of twelve or so, who would do odd jobs aboard fishing boats. Fetching water and firing up the furnace, that sort of thing. Now, Middelharnis is at the heart of Goeree-Overflakkee. You can come here for a friendly day of shopping and scores of summery outdoor events.
Twinned with the village of Sommelsdijk: the two places are adjacent and adjoining, hard to know where one starts and the other ends. They each have an almost identical Voorstraat (‘Front Street’. Here are historical buildings, many of them monuments. The two villages do have a different vibe, though. Middelharnis has always been a fishing village, whereas Sommelsdijk was all about farming.
The northern half of the Menheerse Werf, the old wharf, belongs to the Jachtwerf Peeman. Run by the Peeman family – John and Addie – now in its eighth generation of maritime tradition. The current use has been going since the 1960s.
The age-old slopes are still here, one of them now kitted out with rails, paving and a modern filtering system. Ships can still be pulled up by a trolley and winch, until they are safely high and dry on the wharf. People can work on their own boats here, too.
At the end of the Middelharnis Voorstraat, you will find the stunning old town hall. Designed in 1639 and constructed in a Dutch-Classicist style.
At the regional Goeree-Overflakkee museum, the first brick of the Jewish School is on display. A Jewish community settled in the villages around 1800, building a synagogue in 1842, on the connecting dike between the two. The Jewish School was later built right next door. In November of 1942, a massive deportation sent most of the Jewish community to the concentration camps. After the Second World War, both the synagogue and school were sold. The school was later demolished and the synagogue is now home to a clothes shop.
At the bottom of the dike, is the tiniest film theatre of the Netherlands: Filmhuis Middelharnis, part of the larger cultural centre called Het Diekhuis (the dike house).
There are loads of events every year in Middelharnis, including the Menheerse Havendagen (Harbour Days). For one whole weekend, the town has bountiful music, food and drink, with activities centred around the harbour. Check our events calendar for more local events.