Vlissingen ( pronunciation (info / explanation)) (Zeeuws: Vlissienge) is a place (city) and a municipality in the Dutch province of Zeeland, located on the north side of the mouth of the Western Scheldt on the former island of Walcheren. The town of Vlissingen has approximately 33,000 inhabitants. The municipality has 44,534 inhabitants (January 31, 2022, source: CBS) and an area of 344.98 km², of which 310.84 km² is water.
The municipality of Vlissingen also includes the places Oost-Souburg (10,500 inhabitants), West-Souburg (1960 inhabitants) and Ritthem (500 inhabitants); West-Souburg, which has grown attached to Vlissingen, is also mistakenly seen as a district of the town of Vlissingen.
The municipalities of Middelburg and Vlissingen together form a cohesive urban area (sometimes referred to as "the core city of Zeeland") with more than 93,000 inhabitants.
The first mention of Vlissingen was in 1247.
At the beginning of the Eighty Years' War, the city was in Spanish hands. On April 6, 1572, Vlissingen was the second city (after Den Briel) to be liberated from the Spaniards. Unlike Den Briel, Vlissingen was not liberated by the beggars but by its own inhabitants. In 1585 Vlissingen became English property: Queen Elizabeth obtained it as collateral, together with Ostend, Brielle and Fort Rammekens, in exchange for military and financial aid in the fight against Spain. This is within the framework of the Treaty of Nonsuch. In 1616 these areas reverted to the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Under Napoleon, before he annexed the whole of the Netherlands, Vlissingen was also in French hands for a while through the Treaty of Fontainebleau. At that time, the city therefore did not belong to the Kingdom of Holland, as much of the rest of the present Netherlands did, but became part of the Eeklo district in the Scheldt department. Vlissingen was badly hit during the flood of 1808.
In the 1930s, Mayor C.A. van Woelderen to increase the city's economy based on the three pillars of tourism, port and industry. In the 1920s, an airport had already been built in the north of Vlissingen to stimulate tourism. The city's ports were enlarged and Vlissingen was promoted as a seaside resort. A bathing beach and a walking pier were set up for this purpose.
In the Second World War, the pier was demolished again by order of the German occupiers, to prevent a landing by the Allies. In October 1944, Vlissingen was flooded by the Walcheren Inundation. In this plan, the Allies bombed several dikes and flooded most of Walcheren. The German positions weakened and the Allies gained better access to the Scheldt and the port of Antwerp.
Shipping and shipbuilding have always been of great significance to Vlissingen. Over the years, the De Schelde shipyard has continued to grow and part of the historic city center of Vlissingen has been demolished in favor of large factory halls. When De Schelde left the city center after 120 years and settled in the new port area of Vlissingen-Oost, a large gap remained in the middle of the city. This area has been bought by the municipality to build the new Scheldekwartier district there. Due to the credit crisis, this project became a major headache, leaving the municipality teetering on the brink of financial abyss. Vlissingen is now an Article 12 municipality and the municipality and the development of the Scheldt Quarter are clambering out of a valley.
There are different stories about the origin of the name Vlissingen. The story goes that Sint-Willibrord arrived in Vlissingen in the 7th century with a bottle. He shared the contents of this bottle with beggars and tried to convert them. A miracle happened, as a result of which the contents of the bottle did not decrease. When the bishop noticed that the beggars would not listen to his words, he gave