The fishermen’s settlement that emerged in 620 AD, has become almost 1,400 years later a magnet for tourists and the 3rd most important port of the Netherlands. Because of the favourable location, the Counts of Holland and Zeeland had the first harbour basins excavated as early as the 14th century. Nowadays more than 50,000 vessels from every corner of the world pass through every year. A fact greatly appreciated by tourists, because nowhere else do vessels sail so near to the coast!
During the intervening centuries, the fortified city owed its reputation to the (herring) fishery, trade, privateering and the slave trade. The history of Vlissingen has been characterized by occupations, bombardments and floods. And all of this is because of its (strategic) location on the estuary of the Westerschelde. Whoever controlled Vlissingen gained access to the important port of Antwerp. This meant that every dominant, foreign power cast its glance on Vlissingen. English, French, Germans, Spaniards had all been here within the city walls of Vlissingen. Long before they visited as tourists.
Through the ages
The glorious Golden Age was the century in which ships from Vlissingen plied the world seas and contributed to the position of the Seven United Provinces as world power. In the 18th century followed a relapse. The Napoleonic Wars in particular had a disastrous effect. 1870 saw a period of revival with the construction of new harbour basins, the Canal through Walcheren, the railway and the establishment of shipyard 'De Schelde'. The Second World War interrupted this growth process. Once more the city was heavily damaged by bombing, artillery fire and flooding.
Great energy was invested in the post-war reconstruction of the city. The 1960s saw the development of the seaport and industrial area Vlissingen-Oost. This area is now the economic driver of central Zeeland and provides many thousands of jobs.
See also Michiel de Ruyter.