Sas van Gent
Established in the middle of the 16th century, and located in the middle of Zeeland-Flanders, Sas van Gent lies on the canal from Gent to Terneuzen. Sometimes called the Sluice of Gent (still there), it has close connections with the Hansa town of Gent. The quay-side statue of the 'Schepentrekker' of a man pulling a canal barge, is a humbling reminder of harsh work conditions in days gone by. The town’s defences in the old 'Generaliteit' bastion are recalled by the octagonal foundation of a windmill.
The Generaliteit is one of seven defence bulwarks in Sas van Gent. On the Westdam, you’ll find the entrance to its underground corridors, used in defence and for munitions storage. Restored, you can visit them with a guide.
Walking along the delightful boulevard quay, you can almost touch the seafaring ships going past. Just follow the Schepentrekkers route, and you’ll see the ancient sluice gates, over a 100 years old, and the nostalgic old harbour with the boats – and burdens – of yesteryear.
Need to do more than soak up history? The well-spaced signs along the promenade explain with crafted cameos the origins of the canal, its merchant shipping, swing bridge and the industrial past which led and fed it all.
That industrial era is laid out in detail in the Industrieel Museum Zeeland on the Westkade, in the old sugar sheds of the first Coöperatieve Suikerfabriek (sugar factory). This symbolises the central role of Sas van Gent in the industrialisation of Zeeland (1870-1910). It became the home port for several new enterprises such the NV Zeeuwse Beetwortel-suikerfabriek (1872), de Walzemolen (1893) and the Nederlandse Coöperatieve Beetwortelfabriek (1899), in their processing of sugar beet, grains and beetroot.
As well as the impressive Schepentrekker, and the defence installations, Sas van Gent has an amazing hinterland. Visit them all on the network of bike paths and walking trails.