Thanks to its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Flushing (Vlissingen in Dutch, Flessingue in French, Flesinga in Spanish ; pop. 45,000) was an important harbour for centuries. Flushing Meadows in New York City was named after the Dutch town, at the time when NYC was still the Dutch colony of the New Amsterdam.
Nowadays, the town is fairly unremarkable, apart for its long beach and its big town square. Flushing is famous in the Netherlands for the wharves on the Scheldt where most of the ships of the Royal Dutch Navy are built. It is also known as the birthplace of Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676), one of the most famous admirals in Dutch history..
Founded as a fishing village on the island of Walcheren in 620, Flushing was granted city rights in 1315. It quickly became one of the main ports in the Low Countries, thanks to to location at the estuary of the Schedlt. This passage later became of vital importance when Antwerp, further upstream, became one of the world's busiest ports. For this reason, several foreign powers (Britain, France, Spain, Germany) coveted Flushing through history. Nowadays, 50,000 ships from all over the world pass annually through the River Scheldt (i.e. an average of 135 ships per day).
In the 17th century, Flushing developed into an important harbour for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. In the centuries of its growth, Flushing was especially well known as the centre of (herring) fishing, commerce, privateering, and the slave trade. The history of Flushing is characterized by oppression, bombardments and floods.
The late 18th century marked the start of the decline for Flushing. The effects of the Napoleonic Wars were especially disastrous. After 1870, a period of revival occurred as a result of the building of new docks, the canal through Walcheren, the arrival of the railway and the establishment of a new shipyard.
How to get there
Flushing is located 10km south of Middelburg, at the end of the E312 motorway from Eindhoven via Tilburg and Breda. Coming from Belgium, take the A12 from Antwerp toward Bergen op Zoom, then the E312 to Goes and Vlissingen. Coming from Rotterdam or Amsterdam, take the E19 till Breda, then the E312 toward Bergen op Zoom.
Trains take 30min from Bergen op Zoom. There are a few direct trains from Rotterdam (1h30min) and Amsterdam (2h30min), but most trains from elsewhere in the Netherlands or from Belgium require a change at Roosendaal (50min from Flushing).
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