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Schouwen-Duiveland is a clear expression of Zeeland, Land-on-Sea. Surrounded by the North Sea, the Oosterschelde National Park and the Grevelingen lake, it is a maritime marvel. To its south-west, the Oosterschelde flood barrier, and over to the east, the flood disaster Watersnoodmuseum, are working monuments to our intense relationship with the sea.
On the western headland of Schouwen, the magnificent dunes offer space and oxygen to walkers, bikers, mountain bikers and athletes. The beaches can easily accommodate the endless flow of summer bathers. For bird lovers, the 4,400 ha Plan Tureluur nature park: it’s named after the (Dutch-warbling) redshank. Urbanites and historians have delights to savour in Zierikzee, while surrounding villages and polders form the contrasting green upcountry of the island.
Schouwen-Duiveland grew from four islands: Schouwen, Bommenede, Dreischor and Duiveland. Time, tides, silting and impoldering saw them gradually join up. Counting the inland waters and council boundaries extending into water, the area of the whole island is more covered by water than dry land.
You’ll see our relationship with water, near and far, in buildings and the landscape. Former creeks and flood zones are nature areas now, while some houses still bear the marks of high-water levels. The Plompe Toren has become a symbol for the very many villages which were swamped. To better understand the impact of the 1953 flood disaster, follow the special (car-)routes. Give yourselves time to feel the humility, to sense the hope.
A fair share of prosperity, and waves of setbacks, that’s our history. The days of wealth are in the bricks and mortar of splendid merchant houses and other monuments in, for example, Zierikzee and Brouwershaven. And in the stately homes and country houses around Schuddebeurs. The downside is that sometimes funds were lacking to demolish buildings at their expiry date. But, hey, we get to see them now: the island has some 800 monuments, of which more than 550 in Zierikzee.
Villages and towns
The village of Dreischor is one of the best-kept circular villages of Zeeland, right at the centre of the island. Not far south is the historic town of Zierikzee. Well known for its many monuments but well worth a visit too for its shops and terraces. Over to the eastern cape, Bruinisse showcases its catches in an annual fish festival. Up on the northern coast, Brouwershaven (a harbour of brewers) was the birthplace of statesman, poet and politician Jacob Cats (d. 1660). Now, it’s a favourite port-of-call of many sailors.