The ‘small town’ (we say ‘smalstad’) of Domburg on Walcheren has a long history as a beach resort and an artists’ colony. Its healthy air and phenomenal natural light have been drawing people here for many a year.
Its qualities have long outsized its modest expanse. In the 16th-18th centuries it was one of only seven small towns in the then region of Zeeland to have a special status as ‘smalstad’. This device of governance dealt with their being part rural, part urban: an outgrown village, or ‘townlet’. They were granted the rights of a town, but unlike larger towns they did not send a delegate to the regional board (‘Staten’).
That Domburg has a very long tradition as a spa is witnessed by the Roman remains of thermal baths and a bathhouse with hot- and cold baths. Its history as a beach resort was first launched in 1834 when two Middelburg ladies came to take a dip in the sea in a bathing machine. Sea cure were adopted as a way of healing. Bathers came here for recreation, to enjoy clean sea air and top absorb the therapies of sea water.
It was the eminent physician Dr. Johan Mezger (1838-1909) who first grasped the potential of Domburg. He is famed as the founder of physiotherapy. At his time, Domburg was a favourite port of call for prominent personalities who came for the therapeutic waters and consultations with Dr. Mezger. His name is held in high esteem, to this day.
Together with Cadzand-Bad, Domburg is the only Dutch coastal resort to meet the criteria of the European spa association for thalassotherapy. A spa resort is granted this certification when the effects of the sea water, climate and soil products have been approved
Artists have been coming to Domburg for inspiration since the 20th century dawned. Piet Mondriaan and Jan Toorop are the best known of the early adopters. An artists’ colony grew up around them all, living and working in Domburg, illuminating their creativity with unique Zeeland light. Their legacy lives on today. Would you be wanting to see where the artists interpreted their ingenuity? Take the walk ‘'In het licht van Toorop en Mondriaan'.
In the museum Marie Tak van Poortvliet you’ll see themed displays on the artists who came here early in the last century. Their successors still come, in flocks. Every year around Pentecost, some 40 to 50 artists (‘schilders’) attend the Schildersweek.
Now, shall we step outside the town? Domburg edges the Manteling, a unique forest with stately mansions and glorious gardens. It is one of the few oak forests found so close to the sea. It was planted to protect Walcheren against the chilly sea wind which, as you’ll see, has formed the trees so distinctly. Welcome! This protected area is designed to dispense calm, quiet and relaxation.
Time to reach the beach, as countless visitors before you. You’ll find peace and quiet, or, as you wish, the space to do what you like. Glide gently into a yoga lesson. Sensations of calm and space will flow over the unwinding you, to the soft symphony of the waves. Or take a wellness massage on the beach, gazing slowly out to sea.
Golf? Zeeland’s most exceptional golf course nestles in the dunes. Not only is the Domburgsche Golf Club one of the oldest in the country, but it is also a links course. Meaning that, adjoining the sea, it is exposed to the sea wind. That, and the rough, often add an extra challenge or two to the round.
Time to market? In the summertime, there’s a seasonal market. Every Monday, from Weststraat, Markt, Ooststraat to Stationsstraat. More events are listed in the Events Calendar.
And do come to see us at the VVV-Inspiration point Domburg. Come early in your stay in Domburg. Our unique experience centre will offer you backgrounders and ideas. Multi-media, interactive screens, displays, story-telling, images and audio will give you a foretaste. Just, no wind machine. Get the lowdown on how Dr. Mezger enticed the aristocrats of Europe to our small town. See the light about how the painters Mondriaan and Toorop found inspiration in the luminosity of our skies. And make history yourself: capture your visit to the Green Room on a special photo.