Last updated
Middelburg Stadhuis 01.JPG
Middelburg vlag.svg
Coat of arms of Middelburg.svg
Coat of arms
Map - NL - Municipality code 0687 (2009).svg
Location in Zeeland
Coordinates: 51°30′N3°37′E / 51.500°N 3.617°E / 51.500; 3.617 Coordinates: 51°30′N3°37′E / 51.500°N 3.617°E / 51.500; 3.617
Country Netherlands
Province Zeeland
City Hall Middelburg City Hall
  Body Municipal council
   Mayor Harald Bergmann (VVD)
  Total53.04 km2 (20.48 sq mi)
  Land48.54 km2 (18.74 sq mi)
  Water4.50 km2 (1.74 sq mi)
3 m (10 ft)
 (January 2019) [4]
  Density1,000/km2 (3,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Middelburger
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code 0118
Website www.middelburg.nl

Middelburg (Dutch:  [ˈmɪdəlbʏrx] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a city and municipality in the south-western Netherlands serving as the capital of the province of Zeeland. Situated on the central peninsula of the Zeeland province, Midden-Zeeland (consisting of former islands Walcheren, Noord-Beveland and Zuid-Beveland), it has a population of about 48,000.


In terms of technology, Middelburg played a role in the Scientific Revolution at the early modern period. The city was historically a center of lens crafting in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. The invention of the microscope and telescope is often credited to Middelburg spectacle-makers (including Zacharias Janssen and Hans Lippershey) in the late 16th century and early 17th century.


Middelburg in 1652 Blaeu 1652 - Middelburg.jpg
Middelburg in 1652
Middelburg's city hall around 1910 Gezicht op het stadhuis te Middelburg (1905-1915).jpg
Middelburg's city hall around 1910

The city of Middelburg dates back possibly to the late 8th century or early 9th century. The first mention of Middelburg was as one of three fortified towns (borgs) erected on Walcheren (then an island) to guard against Viking raids. In 844 a monastery was built on the site, which remained an active Catholic foundation until the Reformation. Foundations for Middelburg's "stately and picturesque" main church were first laid in the 10th century; additional construction continued through the Middle Ages.

Middelburg was granted city rights in 1217. During the Middle Ages, it became an important trading centre in the commerce between England and the rising cities of Flanders. The town continued to gain in power and prestige during the 13th and 14th centuries.

From 1559 to 1603, Middelburg was the episcopal see of a Catholic bishopric covering all Zeeland. In the Eighty Years' War, Middelburg was captured from the Spanish forces during a long siege (1572-1574). The northern provinces of the original Low Countries won their independence from their former Spanish Habsburg rulers and formed The Netherlands, a Protestant state. Later, in the 17th century (the Dutch Golden Age), Middelburg became, after Holland's metropolis Amsterdam, the most important center for the East India Company of Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (VOC) or Dutch East India Company.

Middelburg played an important role in the 17th century slave trade.

Samuel Ben Israel, son of Menasseh Ben Israel, is buried in Middelburg at the Sephardic burial site located at the 'Jodengang' outside the citywall. Menasseh Ben Israel negotiated with Cromwell the opening of England, and its colonies, to the Jews. Middelburg also has an Ashkenazic burial site, which is located at the Walensingel inside the city wall. In 1994 the synagogue was restored, as it was partially destroyed during the Second World War. This synagogue was the third one to be built in the Netherlands during the Golden Age. In the hall of the railway station there is a plaque of remembrance for the Jews of Zeeland who started their journey to the death camps from the Middelburg train station.

Topographic map of Middelburg, as of September 2014 Middelburg-plaats-OpenTopo.jpg
Topographic map of Middelburg, as of September 2014

About a third of the old city centre was devastated by bombs and fire in the early phases of World War II, on May 17, 1940. It is still not certain if German bombers or French artillery were responsible. [5] The town was captured and liberated by British troops during Operation Infatuate on 5 November 1944. After the War, as much of the destroyed part of the old town center was rebuilt and restored along pre-War lines as far as was possible. The city's archives, however, had been incinerated during the German bombardment.

Modern Middelburg has preserved and regained much of its historic and picturesque character. There are lavish 17th and 18th century merchant houses and storehouses standing along canals, of a similar style as found in cities like Amsterdam. The old city moats are still there, as are two of the city gates, the Koepoort Gate and the varkenspoort Gate. Part of the 18th century moat and defence works, however, were demolished in the 19th century to make way for a commercial canal that crosses Walcheren from Vlissingen to Veere. The medieval abbey is still in use today, as a museum and as the seat of the provincial government.

Notable locals

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 93–94

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573–1621) was a still life painter of the Dutch Golden Age who worked most of his life in Middelburg. He had three sons, Johannes Bosschaert (1606/08– 1628/29), Ambrosius Bosschaert II (1609-1645) and Abraham Bosschaert the Younger (1612–1643) who were all Dutch Golden Age painters.

The painter Pieter Gaal, (1769–1819) was born, settled and died here, after traveling over Europe to paint

Another well-known citizen of Middelburg was the admiral and explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who was born in the city in 1659 and died there in 1729. Roggeveen discovered Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the South Pacific Ocean on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1722. Further discoveries on the same journey included islands of the Tuamotu group, now part of French Polynesia.

Petronella Johanna de Timmerman, scientist and poet, was born here in 1723. In 1774 she was inducted as an honorary member of the academy Kunstliefde Spaart Geen Vlijt. Also, she presented the academy with poems, translated from French plays. She died in Utrecht in 1786.

Suzanna Nannette Sablairolles, 1847 Suzanna Nannette Sablairolles (13-1-1829 - 13-1-1867).jpg
Suzanna Nannette Sablairolles, 1847
Pieter Cornelis Boutens, 1905 BoutensToorop1905.gif
Pieter Cornelis Boutens, 1905

The Arts

Balthasar Gerbier, 1662 Balthasar Gerbier - Het Gulden Cabinet.png
Balthasar Gerbier, 1662
Harald Bergmann, 2010 Harald Bergmann (2010).jpg
Harald Bergmann, 2010

Public Thinking & public service

Cecil Arthur Hoare ca.1930 Cecil Arthur Hoare c1930.jpg
Cecil Arthur Hoare ca.1930
Jan Poortvliet, 1978 Jan Poortvliet 1978c.jpg
Jan Poortvliet, 1978

Science & Business



Aside from the city of Middelburg, the municipality also includes several population centres, including: Arnemuiden, Kleverskerke, Nieuw- en Sint Joosland and Sint Laurens.

Culture and recreation

When William of Orange decided to found the first university in the Netherlands in 1575, he initially considered locating it in Middelburg. Ultimately he chose Leiden, however, and Middelburg—as well as all of Zeeland—remained without a university until 2004 when University College Roosevelt (formerly known as Roosevelt Academy), affiliated with Utrecht University, was established.

Cultural institutions

  • Zeeuws Museum
  • Vleeshal
  • Sjakie's Chocolademuseum [10]
  • Zeeuws Archief [11]
  • Zeeuwse Bibliotheek
  • Centrum Beeldende Kunst

Theaters and Concert halls

  • Schouwburg
  • Concertzaal Zeeland
  • Spiegeltheater
  • Minitheater
  • Filmtheater Schuttershof
  • UCR Stand up comedy theatre


  • The Abbey
  • Kuiperspoort
  • The "Lange Jan"
  • City Hall
  • Oostkerk
  • Damplein


Middelburg has a rugby club, Oemoemenoe, and four football (soccer) clubs: MZVC, Zeelandia Middelburg, Jong Ambon and FC Dauwendaele. Jong Ambon is translated Young Ambon, and consists of mostly Ambonese players. FC Dauwendaele is the main club in Dauwendaele.


Middelburg railway station. StationMiddelburg.jpg
Middelburg railway station.

Middelburg has a railway station with intercity train connections to Vlissingen, Goes, Roosendaal, Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol International Airport, Amsterdam, and Almere, among others. Two trains leave every hour in both directions.

Twin cities

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  1. "Collegeleden" [Members of the board] (in Dutch). Gemeente Middelburg. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  2. "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  3. "Postcodetool for 4331BK". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  4. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. "Middelburg". War over Holland. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  6. IMDb Database retrieved 30 November 2019
  7. IMDb Database retrieved 30 November 2019
  8. Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11 (1913), Paul of Middelburg retrieved 30 November 2019
  9. 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4, Bynkershoek, Cornelius Van retrieved 27 November 2019
  10. Zeeuws Archief
  11. p166-178 of the House of Stratus edition, ch. 4. The Romantic Prince, Rafael Sabatini, 2001