The small town of Sluis is located in the very south-west of the Netherlands, just 5 km from the border with Belgium. Its population is only a couple of thousand people. But there is a Michelin-starred restaurant and a unique beffroy tower. And yet – a story long for many centuries, when all the dominant European nations fought for the city, and he had to bristle with fortifications and stand to the death until nature itself intervened in the matter. Sluis belongs to Zeeland, and the absolute majority of its inhabitants are Flemings. And they are incredibly proud of it. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Netherlands.
The stone tower-Beffroy, Belfort, was built in 1386 and is occupied by the city government. Today it is one of the two most striking sights of the city. First of all, this beffroy is generally the only one in the country.
How to get to Sluys
It’s faster and more convenient to get to Sluis from Bruges: by bus in the direction of Breskens in half an hour with a small one or by car (it’s only 20 km here). It is much more inconvenient to get from Dutch cities, but it is also possible: the road from Amsterdam by car will take about 3 hours.
A bit of history
Officially, Sluys received the status of a city in 1290 and since then it has developed very quickly: it was a convenient port with an excellent harbor, and even at the mouth of the river. So a lot of people have coveted Sluys. At the end of the 14th century, the Duke of Flanders was the first to fortify the city, and a castle arose in Sluys. Alas, at the end of the 18th century it suffered so much from French artillery that it simply fell apart in the first half of the 19th century. In the 16th century, the 80-year war between Spain and the Northern Netherlands began, and the Spaniards also contributed to strengthening the city’s defenses. In 1587, Sluys was captured by the Duke of Parma. The Spaniards left, they were replaced by the Dutch, who again began to build fortifications in the city…
But then an unexpected thing happened. It turns out that the sea receded from Sluys year after year, and imperceptibly from the seaport it became just a city. The Zwin Bay became the Zwin Valley. And Sluys was still captured by the French, but after them he lived quietly until the Second World War. And he survived it almost entirely: German troops captured the city only at the end of 1944 and were driven out of it a month later by Canadian units. Unfortunately, before the capture of Sluis, the Germans heavily shelled it, destroying most of the medieval buildings. So the current appearance of the city mainly consists of restored buildings.
Popular hotels in Sluis
Attractions and attractions of Sluis
The tourist center and the Old Town of Sluis are centered around two main pedestrian streets. They are planted with flowers and filled with all kinds of shops, from the most expensive to the smallest. At the same time, every weekend the city fills with many tourists from neighboring cities and even countries who come here for shopping. The fact is that for some reason it is in Sluys that everything is surprisingly cheap.
In Sluys, there is a habit uncharacteristic for European cities: shops here are open on weekends and arrange holidays for themselves during the week – or not at all.
The stone tower-Beffroy, Belfort, was built in 1386 and is occupied by the city government. Today it is one of the two most striking sights of the city. First of all, this beffroy is generally the only one in the country. A severe medieval tower with pointed mini-turrets in the corners and a clock dial on a sharp roof can be seen from afar: its height is 32 m. In 1960, a carillon was installed on the top, and today there is also a museum.
Next to the Belfort, there is a second attraction: the Protestant church of St. Mary, which the city is also proud of, although it was built only in the 20th century. The old church was damaged in a fire and collapsed in the first half of the 19th century. The current church is a beautiful building stylized as a medieval church with a rectangular tower and a needle-sharp spire in the center.
3 things to do in Sluis:
- Climb the spiral staircase to Belfort and admire the valley.
- Go to Sint Anna ter Muiden. It is about 10 km to the west by car.
- Try the local Trappist Monk beer.
The ancient mill “De Brac” was built in 1739 and is now located right in the middle of the Old Town. This is the first stone mill in the region, and a brasserie restaurant was opened with it, where you could enjoy your own pancakes. During World War II, the mill was partially damaged, but was restored. Today, the renovated mill is working again, and tourists can buy flour inside, and also climb the stairs to the upper tier and look at the city. And nearby you can, as before, sit in a restaurant-teahouse.
Sluis is visited by 5 million people annually. It would seem not much, but the most cursory calculation shows that on average every day the city receives 4-5 times more new guests than residents.
Some fragments of the Sluys defensive fortifications have survived to this day. At one time, the city center was completely surrounded by walls, which now represent a very nice walking route about 6 km long. From the top of the city rampart, you can admire the Zwin Valley wonderfully. The most impressive section of the fortifications is the Western Gate, or “Steenen Bir” – “Stone Bear”. In 1437, the soldiers of Bruges destroyed them, but then the gates were restored and even reinforced, and the last addition to the structure was acquired in 1702.
Another beautiful city attraction is the Damse Vaart canal. It was dug by Spanish prisoners of war by order of Napoleon, who wanted to connect Bruges with Sluis in this way. Under Bonaparte, the canal was never completed, having dug the last kilometers to Sluys only more than 40 years later, in 1858. Today, swans swim in the canal, fountains are arranged on the water, and you can rent a catamaran on the embankments.
The Old Sluys restaurant in the city is one of only two in the country to be awarded three Michelin stars.
Surroundings of Sluys
About fifty people constantly live in the village of Sint Anna ter Muiden. It is the westernmost village of the Netherlands and is considered a protected monument in its entirety. Despite the microscopic size of the village, it has been a city since 1242. So, in fact, Anna ter Muiden is the second smallest city in the country (after Staverden, which officially has only 40 inhabitants). Actually, the town consists of a very nice market square, full of extremely pretty houses, and a small square where there is a massive church tower of the 14th century, very impressive. In the market square, you can still see the Louis XIV-style water column from 1789, and thatched houses in the city streets.