The silhouette of Zierikzee has been making good impressions for six centuries and more. Many of the walls, gates, churches, towers and windmills of those long-gone days are still with us today, among them 500-plus monuments.
It was in 1248 that Zierikzee received its town charter. By the medieval era, it had acquired a strategic importance: between 1414 and 1576 fires reduced to partial or complete ashes several times.
The wars of the 20th centuries had their impact too. In WW1, an off-course British bomber dropped several bombs on Zierikzee, killing three citizens. In the decades after the Second World War, some 30 million kilos of munition were dumped in the (deep) Gat van Zierikzee in the Oosterschelde estuary – and remain there today.
In the blue skies above Zierikzee, De Dikke Toren – aka Sint-Lievensmonstertoren – rises to give you, after 279 steps, a bouquet of views over the town, the bridge and the island. Back in 1454, the early architects had dreamt of a tower 200 metres high, but a recession in 1530, cut costs to allow only 62 metres. You can cut your climbing costs too: the ZeelandPas gives you a 50% discount.
Standing sturdily next to the Dikke Toren is the Nieuwe Kerk. It was built between 1835 and 1848, to replace the Sint-Lievensmonsterkerk, which burnt down in 1832, leaving only the tower. Which one impresses you more? Both?
The town Zierikzee harbours many firm memories of its defensive choices. In the 14th century two large town gates were built as part to the waterfront defence the waterfront: the
Zuidhavenpoort and the Noordhavenpoort. Nearby in the Nieuwe Haven you’ll find authentic boats and ships at their moorings. Opposite those town gates, take time to take in the sights of the historic buildings in the Oude Haven. Spanning its waters, a double drawbridge. Whence a superb medieval view.
The 16th century Stadhuis town hall now houses the Stadhuis Museum. It explains just about everything of the harbour town’s history and monuments. The rich exhibition hall displays some of the world’s oldest kayaks.
With Zierikzee in the Top 10 of Dutch monument towns and cities, you really should take a town tour. You can plan your own, or take an organised tour or guided tour with a real guide. Super Tip: hook up with Ninette who’ll happily show you round part of her home in her 15th century (former) palace. She’s in the ‘Meet a Zeelander’ programme.
So many monuments, many connected with the trades of former centuries. Today’s trades are worth a look too: the shops of Zierikzee range from the usual brand outlets to a splendid collection of super boutiques specialised in clothing, jewellery and trinkets. After your exertions, chill out on a terrace on the Havenplein, or enjoy a meal overlooking the harbour (‘haven’).
The harbour of Zierikzee is also the home stage, in August, of the three annual Havendagen with all-you-can-enjoy music, food and drink. Bigger than the Havendagen, we also celebrate the Zierikzeese Dagen in the summer. For six consecutive Tuesdays, downtown Zierikzee hosts a street fair, with distinct weekly themes.
These and other days in Zierikzee are listed on our Events Calendar.