Walcheren is located partly on the North Sea and at the Western Scheldt. The beaches offer views of sea-going vessels sailing along the coast. The beaches are among the cleanest of the Netherlands. Nature Reserve De Manteling in Walcheren consists of woods, dunes, stately avenues and classic estates. From the 17th to 19th century, it was the summer retreat for the Middelburg elite. Domburg is the oldest resort on the Walcheren coast.
As early as in Roman times, the area of Walcheren was inhabited, and Domburg served as a major trading post. After the 4th century Walcheren became a county, and in the 9th century a circular rampart was constructed to protect the town against the Normans. Around that town, a town developed in between Domburg and Souburg, named Middelburg. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city grew into one of the largest ports and commercial cities in the Northern Netherlands.
Walcheren has been a peninsula since the end of the 19th century, when the Sloedam was constructed and the railway line was extended from Zuid-Beveland to Flushing.
During the Second World War, Walcheren was turned into a large fortress because the German occupying forces expected a major attack on the peninsula. Around 200 bunkers were built. Fighting was especially intense at Sloedam, where casualty numbers were high. A large portion of Walcheren was submerged by the Allies in 1944 to weaken the position of the occupying forces. Walcheren was finally liberated on 8 November, 1944.
During the disastrous North Sea Flood of 1953, Walcheren mostly managed to keep its feet dry. The construction of the Gatdam of Veere as part of the Delta Works led to the creation of Lake Veere. Nowadays it serves as a popular location for water sports in Zeeland. The folkloric sport ‘ring riding’ is particularly popular on the island of Walcheren. Nearly every town has its own competition. Ring riding is played by a rider on an unsaddled horse who tries to pierce a ring with a lance at full gallop.
Towns and cities
Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland, is located on Walcheren. The city is centrally located on the island. Nearby, you will find the city of Flushing with its boulevard along the Western Scheldt. At the roadstead of Flushing, ships approach so closely that you can almost touch them. The coastal town of Domburg has always been a popular spot for bathing. It also attracted many artists in the early 20th century, who came especially to see the 'Zeeland Light'.