Gateway to the world

Ports and trading places

The Scheldt was already an important transport route in Roman times. Products went by sea to present-day England, France and Germany. Port towns such as Bruges, Ghent, Middelburg, Zierikzee, Veere and Hulst developed into flourishing trading settlements in the late Middle Ages. Outports developed along wide tidal channels for Bruges and Ghent. Damme, for example, developed in the 12th century at the dam that closed off the Zwin. Later Hoeke, Monnikerede and Sluis followed as important trading places.

Antwerp, already important as a port and commercial city in the thirteenth century, began its prosperity three centuries later when the Western Scheldt became the most important waterway and Bruges declined due to silting up of the Zwin. Antwerp would grow into a metropolis on the Scheldt. Middelburg and Flushing also profited greatly from international trade until the eighteenth century, thanks in part to tolls on shipping to and from Antwerp.

 

Kaloot - Van tropische zee tot Schelde

Waterways

For centuries, transport by water was the most efficient, safest and fastest way of transportation. The Scheldt estuary has a widely branched system of waterways, in which goods were also transported over waterways and peat canals. Throughout the area were jetties, (tidal) harbors, locks and ferry ferries. In Zeeland, the ferries formed an essential link between the islands well into the twentieth century.

As early as the Middle Ages, canals were dug to connect a trading place with open water or with other trading places. Thus, in the twelfth century, the canal of the Old Zwin was dug to connect Bruges with the sea. From 1251 to 1269, the De Lieve canal was dug between Ghent and the Zwin near Damme. In the mid-sixteenth century, the construction of the Sassevaart created a connection between Ghent and the Honte.

In the nineteenth century, substantial investments were made in new waterways: the Damse Vaart to connect northern France with Sluis and the Western Scheldt via Bruges, the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, and the Canal through Zuid-Beveland. The latter provided a new connection between the Western Scheldt and Eastern Scheldt after construction of the Kreekrakdam.

Far-reaching interventions were necessary to keep the Scheldt and its tributaries navigable. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Scheldt was straightened for shipping. Problems had arisen earlier in the Durme, which silted up after the construction of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal. Keeping the Western Scheldt navigable to ensure accessibility to the ports of Antwerp is still a hot issue today.

 

Land roads

Settlements, such as Bornem, Waasmunster and Ganuenta, developed at crossing and mooring points along waterways as early as Roman times. Land roads were preferably built on higher ground that remained dry even in winter. In the oldest diked areas in Zeeland, the roads lay on the higher creek ridges. In the smaller, late medieval polders, the roads mostly follow the dike pattern. The even younger, mostly larger polders are traversed by long, straight roads.

People equally moved along smaller roads and paths. In the Rupel region, brick potters built tunnels under the dyke road from the nineteenth century onwards, to easily cross with the clay from the extraction pit to the brick kiln and further to the loading docks along the Scheldt and Rupel rivers. Some are still in use as neighborhood roads.

 

Durme - Rivier en getijden - Invloed van de zee

Pelgrims, migrants and artists

Some roads were known routes to places of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Large cities acted as magnets for migrants, (religious) refugees or people looking for work. In addition to merchants, a host of craftsmen, artists and scholars settled there. This is how printing and cartography developed in Antwerp. After the Fall of Antwerp in 1585, many Protestants fled north, including to Middelburg, where they were at the cradle of a cultural and intellectual heyday.

Because of its beautiful landscapes, picturesque villages and harbors, and monumental inner cities, the Scheldt region exerted great attraction on artists and tourists. Coastal towns such as Knokke and Domburg gained fame in the nineteenth century as health resorts and seaside resorts.

 

Discover and experience

The entire area can be explored on foot and by bicycle along numerous routes. Bicycle and foot ferries connect the banks. Walking routes have been set out in the Scheldt-Durm landscape along "slow roads". From the pavilion de Notelaer on the Scheldedijk you have a beautiful view of the Scheldt landscape. The Sas near Bornem has been fully restored and is considered the best preserved mechanical lock in Belgium. The Markiezenhof in Bergen op Zoom is now a museum. The old abbey in Middelburg houses the Zeeuws Museum. Picturesque old port towns such as Damme, Sluis, Veere and Zierikzee are popular with tourists. The former Baasrode shipyards in Dendermonde are being developed into a heritage site about shipbuilding and inland navigation around 1900.  The Mercator Museum in Sint-Niklaas is dedicated to the cartographer Gerardus Mercator, from Rupelmonde. In his native village of Sint-Amands, a museum is dedicated to the poet Emile Verhaeren.

 

Type
Crypten Abdij Middelburg

Abdij Middelburg

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UNESCO Memory of the World - Archief Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie

Archief Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie

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UNESCO Memory of the World - Archief Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie

archives of the Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie

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Bornem Castle

Bornem Castle

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Boten bij het Brouws Museum

Brouws Museum

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Boten bij het Brouws Museum

Brouws Museum

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Damse Vaart

Damse Vaart

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Damse Vaart

Damse Vaart

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Inkijkje in het Emile Verhaerenmuseum

Emile Verhaeren Museum

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Inkijkje in het Emile Verhaerenmuseum

Emile Verhaerenmuseum

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Schiponderdelen in het Visserijmuseum Breskens

Fisheries Museum - Breskens

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Klederdracht in Museum Arnemuiden

Historical Museum Arnemuiden

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Klederdracht in Museum Arnemuiden

Historisch Museum Arnemuiden

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Bornem Castle

Kasteel van Bornem

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Tentoonstelling in het Mercatormuseum

Mercator Museum

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Tentoonstelling in het Mercatormuseum

Mercatormuseum

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Crypten Abdij Middelburg

Middelburg Abbey

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Museum Markiezenhof

Museum Markiezenhof

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Museum Markiezenhof

Museum Markiezenhof

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Het Stadshuis van Veere, één van de twee locaties van Museum Veere

Museum Veere

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Het Stadshuis van Veere, één van de twee locaties van Museum Veere

Museum Veere

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Buitenlocatie (Oude Haven) van Museumhaven Zierikzee

Museumhaven Zeeland

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Buitenlocatie (Oude Haven) van Museumhaven Zierikzee

Museumhaven Zeeland

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De steenschuit 'Clotilde' in het Nautisch Bezoekerscentrum Rupelstreek

Nautical Visitor Centre Rupelstreek

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De steenschuit 'Clotilde' in het Nautisch Bezoekerscentrum Rupelstreek

Nautisch Bezoekerscentrum Rupelstreek

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Ingang van het OosterscheldeMuseum in Yerseke

OosterscheldeMuseum

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Ingang van het OosterscheldeMuseum in Yerseke

OosterscheldeMuseum

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Bezoekers wandelen langs de getijdgeul Hammen in de gemeente Schouwen, Oosterschelde

Oosterscheldeweek

Oosterschelde
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Sas bij Bornem (afwateringssluis)

Sas bij Bornem

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Sas bij Bornem (afwateringssluis)

Sas near Bornem

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Provinciale Erfgoedsite Scheepswerven Baasrode

Scheepsvaartmuseum Baasrode

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Provinciale Erfgoedsite Scheepswerven Baasrode

Scheepsvaartmuseum Baasrode

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Fragment Scheldekaart van Rupelmonde tot de Noordzee in Felixarchief Antwerpen

Scheldekaart van Rupelmonde tot de Noordzee in FelixArchief Antwerpen

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Schiponderdelen in het Visserijmuseum Breskens

Visserijmuseum - Breskens

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Praalgraf Emile Verhaeren

Wandelen in het spoor van dichter Emile Verhaeren

Sint-Amands
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Fietsers langs de kustlijn in de Zwinstreek

Week van de Zwinstreek

Het Zwin
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Kijkje in de collectie van het Zeeuws Maritiem MuZEEum

Zeeland Maritime MuZEEum

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Kijkje in de collectie van het Zeeuws Maritiem MuZEEum

Zeeuws Maritiem MuZEEum

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Inkijkje in de collectie van het Zeeuws Museum

Zeeuws Museum

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Inkijkje in de collectie van het Zeeuws Museum

Zeeuws Museum

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