Visiting Vlissingen (Flushing) and Middleburg, Netherlands By Cruise Ship

by Janis on August 16, 2017

Holland America Prinsendam docked at the Zeeland Cruise Port in Vlissingen (Flushing), The NetherlandsThe itinerary during our 14-day Celtic Explorer cruise on Holland America’s ms Prinsendam included a 6-hour stop in southwest part of the Netherlands at the Zeeland Cruise Port in Vlissingen.

With its strategic location between the North Sea and the Scheldt River, Vlissingen was a major port for English sea traffic to central Europe for centuries. The English called it “Flushing“.

Flushing, New York — now a part of Queens in New York City — was originally named Vlissingen (after the town in the Netherlands) when it was founded in by Dutch colonists in 1645.

Our cruise ship docked in Vlissingen (Flushing) at 7 am sharp, and we were some of the first passengers off of the ship. The port provided cruise guests their choice of two different complimentary shuttles:

  • from the port to the Maritime Museum in Vlissingen
  • from the port to the city center of Middleburg

Since the bus to Middleburg was the first to depart, that was our choice.

canal view, Middleburg, Zeeland, The Netherlands

Middelburg — a city of 48,000 and the capital of the Zeeland province — dates to the 9th century, and was built as a fortified town to guard against Viking raids.  Granted city rights in 1217, Middleburg became an important trading center between England and the rising cities of Flanders. The town continued to gain in power and prestige during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Middelburg in 1652

Middelburg in 1652

Today, much of the center of Middleburg is still surrounded by the star-shaped canal ring as it was in 1652.

After our shuttle bus dropped by one of the canals, we made the easy walk through the old streets around Middleburg’s charming Market Square.

Lange Jan (Long John) Abbey Tower, Middleburg, NetherlandsThe most noticeable landmark in Middleburg is the Lange Jan (Long John or Tall John) Abbey Tower. Visitors can climb the tower’s 197 steps for a terrific view, but it wasn’t open until after 11 am — too late for our visit.

The Lange Jan is part of the Middelburg Abbey, built by Norbertine monks in the 12th century. The massive abbey complex contains three churches, five tower and numerous gates around a large courtyard.

Zeeuws Museum in former abbey, Middleburg, The NetherlandsThe abbey complex houses the Zeeuws Museum, which also opens at 11 am. The museum houses an extensive collection of historic artifacts and artworks detailing Middleburg’s wealthy past.

historic building (one of 1,200) in Middleburg, The NetherlandsAlthough Middleburg was bombed during World War II, is has 1,200 historic buildings that indicate the city’s wealth when it was the second headquarters of the Dutch East India Company for many years.

 former town hall overlooks market square, Middleburg, Netherlands Middleburg’s former city hall overlooks its market square at the city’s center. A mixture of architectural styles, the building’s 14th century Late-Gothic facade faces the market square, while its later 17th-century additions have a classical style.

Our early morning visit was on a market day. We found the one open cafe and watched the market vendors set up their booths to sell fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, meats and much more.

Zeeuwse bolus pastry and coffee, Middleburg, The NetherlandsLater, at the cafe in the Drukkerij De bookstore just off the main square, we enjoyed a coffee and a Zeeuwse bolus. A local specialty of the Zeeland province, the Zeeuwse bolus is a sweet pastry of dough rolled in brown sugar and cinnamon in a spiral shape. Our local guide on the shuttle bus told our group to be sure and try it. “The pastry looks like a pile of poop, but tastes great.”

We agreed that the Zeeuwse bolus was quite tasty.

Due to our short port call in Vlissingen, the last shuttle left Middleburg at 11:30 am, just as many of the city’s attractions were opening. Regardless, we enjoyed our early-morning exploration around this picturesque city.

Have you visited Vlissingen (Flushing) and/or Middleburg, Netherlands? 

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