Goes sits bang in the middle of Zuid-Beveland. A tad eclectic, you’ll find masses of shops, terraces and monuments. And it’s always had, still has, a vibrant agricultural side. Oh, pronounce Goes as ‘goose’, with your well-practised guttural ‘g’. We have a softer ‘g’, and pronounce it like the Scottish ‘hoose’.
Long ago, the young village Goes burgeoned on the Korte Gos river. It received its town charter in 1405. Until the 16th century, it prospered on linen and salt production. In 1554, fire swept through its north-western quarter, reducing it to ashes.
The town is still the long-standing regional hub of agriculture, and is also a hub for service industries and distribution.
At the end of the 16th century, a ring of defences was built; some parts are intact today. Moving on: the town was relatively unscathed in both World Wars, just as it was spared from the flood disaster of 1953. Heavily involved, though. It took in evacuees from such places as Wolphaartsdijk, Kortgene and Kruiningen.
The vernacular for Goes is Hoes Hanzestad but it’s not an actual Hansa town. That little confusion probably comes from the soft ‘g’. You see, the goose, which features on our coat of arms, is ‘gans’ in Dutch, so we say ‘hanze’. The word play goes on: at Carnival time, the town changes its name to Hanzehat.
Down on the Grote Markt, there’s the sumptuous old Gothic-style Stadhuis, from the early 15th century. The former meat hall now houses a restaurant.
Towering above the square behind the Markt is the Grote or Maria Magdalenakerk church, from 1423. It’s Late Gothic design, and its carillon has a mere 47 bells. You’ll spot it. The church nave is now used for exhibitions.
A more recent tower, higher at 137 metres, is the Goes television mast. When TV was introduced across the Netherlands in 1953, such masts were needed at some 50 locations. The one covering the south-west came to Goes. It also carries telephone traffic and FM transmissions. Best seen, from afar, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when it is illuminated with colours.
Steaming? Catch the Stoomtrein back in time on the Goes-Borsele line, on the tourist train of Zuid-Beveland. Authentic old trains puff their way from Goes to Kwadendamme and on to Hoedekenskerke. Break your journey along the way to take in the local attractions.
Now, about that shopping trip. Goes is one serious town for shopping. A nice extra is that many shops are located in old buildings, like in the zone just behind the Grote Markt. Asserting themselves among the national chain outlets, you’ll find the small shops, each with their own range and collection. If you need to flop, choose one of the ‘gezellige’ cafés, inside or out on their terrace. Some outdoor shopping? Hit the market on Tuesdays.
So that was the walking. How about some serious dancing? Get your dates right, because Goes only goes wild once a year, when Dancetour Goes comes to town. It’s a free dj’d dance party, on the Grote Markt. Enjoy. Other events, mainly quieter, are listed on the Events Calendar.