Cities in the Netherlands

North Sea Region II

The Story of Sluis

With some 6,500 inhabitants the border town with Belgium these days primarily is known for its 24 hours, seven days a week shopping possibilities. Orig-inally called Lambinsvliet, it received its town charter in 1290 and in the few centuries after, Sluis was one of the most prosperous towns in Flandres.

Situated at the Zwin inlet, it lost its prominence when the waterway filled in. During the Eighty Year War Sluis (1568-1848) was sieged several times and frequently changed hands. During the 18th and 19th century it again was captured and recaptured three times. The townhall dates from 1390 and was heavily damaged in 1940-1945, but has been completely rebuilt. Only six bastions remain of the 17th century fortress, itself expanded in 1702 under famed military architect Van Coehoorn.

Independent until 1994; since then it is part of Sluis-Aardenburg. In 1840, Sluis numbered 257 homes and 1493 inhabitants. The municipality includes the villages and hamlets of Aardenburg, Draaibrug, Eede, Heille, Irhofstede, Retranchement, Sint Anna ter Muiden, Sint Kruis and Zwindorp.

The Historical Collection Belfort is located in the city hall, a building with the only belfort tower in the Netherlands.

Famed sons are author Jan Eekhout (b. 1900) and Johan van Dale (1828-1872), a local teacher who assembled a definitive dictionary which since then with many periodic updates has become the standard of the Netherlands, simply known as the ‘Van Dale’. A statue located on the Wal Square reminds visitors of the linguist’s association with the town.