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Cities in the Netherlands

North Sea Region II

The Story of Westkapelle

Now part of the municipality of Veere (since 1996), the village at the westernmost point of the former isle of Walcheren had nearly 2000 inhabitants in 1840.

First built in the 16th century, the system of sea walls at Westkapelle - the Westkapelse Zeedijk - was one of the best examples of the way the Dutch protected the hinterland. The dike was breached in WWII to flood Walcheren and flush out the Germans. In 1945, the dike was repaired; a monument in West-kapelle reminds of that event. The Zeedijk remained a milestone in Dutch diking expertise until the construction of the massive Delta Works, a project which includes heavy dams, immense sluice gates, sea walls, dikes and bridges. It was instigated by the devastating February Flood of 1953, when over 1800 people perished in inundated polders and other lowlying areas of Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and Noord-Brabant.

Nearby is the hamlet Sir Poppekerke. The name has nothing to do with the English title, but originates from an old Dutch linguistic contraction in place names using s for des (from), as in s-Gravenhage and s-Hertogenbosch. In other words: the church of Lord Poppe.