Oost-Souburg

Our Oost-Souburg – it would be East Sudbury over in England – is on Walcheren, nudged between its bigger neighbours Vlissingen and Middelburg. It has long been known for its still intact defensive walled town from the Carolingian era. The defensive skills of three more recent famous sons of Oost-Souburg – the Dutch soccer players Danny Blind and twin brothers Gérard and Dennis de Nooijer – are perhaps less dignified. Discuss.

Oost-Souburg grew from the Carolingian Sudburg, built as a defensive walled settlement to protect citizens from Viking invaders. Excavations in the 20th century revealed it was the best preserved burg in Zeeland. Now the town walls have been restored and a gate rebuilt to provide a better view.

The two hemispheres of the unitary Souburg – Oost-Souburg and West-Souburg – are now separated by the canal ‘Kanaal door Walcheren’. The original ‘Subburgh’ was first mentioned in 1162. Later, in 1247, Oost-Souburg became an independent parish, mainly known as a site for pilgrimage. The parish church, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, drew people from far afield. It is said that a recess in a church wall housed a miraculous statue of Mary. It was shattered during the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation (‘Beeldenstorm’). The church still stands as ever on the Oranjeplein, but with a new name - Open Haven - and a new, Protestant, congregation. The tower and main building are national monuments.

The site of the De Pere corn mill was first part of West-Souburg, but the division caused by the canal saw it reclassified as being in Oost-Souburg. It is still operated, almost daily, by a professional miller.

The regional public broadcaster, Omroep Zeeland (a fine model of the genre), is located on Kanaalstraat in Oost-Souburg. The radio studios are in the former town hall; the TV studio came later.

That same Kanaalstraat – the main thoroughfare – is also closed twice a year for the Carolingian market and fair, when it fills up with stalls of all sorts. More details of these, and other events in Oost-Souburg are on the Events Calendar.

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