Cities in the Netherlands

North Sea Region II

The Story of Axel

A municipality with 12.300 inhabitants, the town itself had a population of 1226 in the census of 1840. It now includes the hamlets and villages of Koewacht, Zuiddorpe, part of hamlet Axelsche Sassing (sluicegate) and since 1970 also the municipality of Overslag. A blossoming merchant community (as Axle, perhaps from Viking times) already in the 9th century when it was reinforced by a Viking-built fortress. Axel was formed between two branches of the Scheldt river. It received town charter in 1213 and became the capital of a county belonging to the German emperor. In 1452, it was razed by troops of Philip of Burgondy. Captured by Prince Maurice in 1586, it then was fortified. A fortress with 8 bulwarks was sold by the French in 1805 and razed by its purchasers to make way for farmland. An early 19th century attempt to dig a waterway to the Canal of Ghent was abandoned three years later, when Belgium began its rebellion against the Dutch. Interesting statues in the town honour the popular Zeeland draft horse and a farmworker.

The Regional Heritage Museum has examples of local costumes and farmstead interiors from the end of the 19th century. The Witte’s Photo and Radio Museum was set up by the Witte Brothers.Famed son: 18th century law professor Pieter Paulus.