Cycling route The Eastern Scheldt and the Drowned Villages
Zierikzee, Colijnsplaat, Burghsluis
The province of Zeeland has endured many calamities over the centuries. The southwestern part of the Netherlands regularly faced storm surges. For the first time in the year 838, 2437 victims of a disaster were written about when the water was as high as the tops of the dunes.
On 28 September 1014, thousands died as a result of a flood disaster. And in 1404 and 1421, the First and Second St Elizabeth Floods took place respectively, an extremely high storm surge in which not only thousands of lives were lost but dozens of villages were also lost to the sea. The Saint Felix Flood followed in 1530 and the All Saints' Flood in 1570. Despite All Saints' Flood being predicted, more than 20,000 people die during this flood disaster and another four villages disappear into the sea. Severe storm surges take place in 1906 and 1916, which are surpassed by the well-known flood disaster in 1953. The latter disaster prompted the construction of a storm surge barrier in the form of the Delta Works.
The landscape in Zeeland was changed considerably by all those storm tides, and almost 200 villages and a single town were completely absorbed by the sea in the process. On this route through Oosterschelde National Park, along the coast of Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland, you pass about 20 of these former villages, of which usually little has been found. A number of villages have a window that allows you to see what it must have looked like in the past. With this route, you pass the window of Koudekerke and of Westenschouwe.
The construction of the Delta Works, which was completed in 1986, changed the landscape a lot more and created a unique ecosystem with flora and fauna special to the Netherlands. So don't forget to enjoy it when cycling through Oosterschelde National Park, despite the poignant events that took place there.
More information can be found at the information centre Neeltje Jans and along the route, you will come across the Verdronken Dorpen (Drowned Villages Monument) as well as information boards. The names of almost all drowned villages can be found there. Archaeological finds from the lost villages can be found in the Watersnoodmuseum. The latter is not on the route but you will want to visit it after cycling this impressive route.
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