Welcome to Zeeland.
After a morning cruising through locks and idyllic scenery, we have arrived in Zeeland in the southern part of the Netherlands. Today we are visiting Middleburg the capital of the province, in (as you can guess) the middle. From our riverboat, the AMAPrima, we took a two-hour walking tour into this charming city with origins dating back to the 1100s.
As we have previously reported, the streets are clean, homes are beautifully restored and maintained and sunny skies warmed the temps reaching upper 70s. This town had major damage in World War II and has restored or rebuilt beautifully keeping its historical perspective. Attention to historic detail earned the town designation of a “European Heritage City” in 1975.
I loved the highly lacquered doors painted in madder (deep red), green or blue, many with the owner’s name displayed in beautiful calligraphy. Occasionally there is a poem on a door or a wall and many homes bore centuries-old house-names lettered high, close to their upper gables. My friends and I were amazed at how clean the large windows were – every pane, on every window.
We ventured on cobbled streets and narrow stone paths through alleys between rows of tall houses, ducked into tunnels carved into old city walls, and peaked into neat gardens hidden behind ancient stone walls. The town’s large monastery has long been used for city offices and now also houses a museum, and the ornate town hall has been repurposed for special events. Warehouses dating from the 1600s are now beautiful homes with historic designation. And, of course, never far from sight are the canals filled with sailing vessels, houseboats, and riverboats It was such a pleasant afternoon.
Of note: Zeeland is also home to the Delta Works, a complex system of storm surge barriers and massive valves with the potential to temporarily dam an area during storms to limit flooding. The Dutch have set the world standard in the fight against rising water levels and are now consulting throughout the world, including in many areas of the USA.