General information


Sluis is a small touristic town with a relatively large, high quality offer of shops, hotels and catering. The town Sluis has a rich history which can be seen in and around the town as well as in the Belfort. The town Sluis is part of the municipality of Sluis and houses the administrative centre but the town hall is in Oostburg.


the municipality Sluis has 22,000 inhabitants; the town Sluis 2,500.


The municipality and town Sluis are situated in the South Western part of the Netherlands and are geographically part of Flanders (Belgium). Sluis can be reached by the tunnel (under the river Scheldt) between Goes and Terneuzen, via the Expressway in the North of Flanders(Belgium) and by ferry between Vlissingen en Breskens. The town characteristic features are the Rampart with the restored South and East Gates, the ruins of the West Gate en in the centre the restored Belfort, built in the Burgundy period of Sluis. De walled town is inextricably bound up with the walled towns Retranchement, Oostburg, Aardenburg and IJzendijke, linked together by way of bulwarks and ramparts. This entity was part of the State-Spanish Line in Zeeuws- and North Flanders

History of the fortress / walled town:

Around 1280 Sluis developed near a tollhouse on drainage canal which carried water from the Aardenburger Ambacht to Het Zwin (an arm of the sea). It was a good spot, situated half way between the sea and the metropolis of that time Bruges, at a reasonable distance from the already existing important places Oostburg, Aardenburg and Damme and on a bend of Het Zwin.In 1290 it received town rights. In the 14th and 15th century Sluis flourished. In the second half of the 15th century, however, Sluis deteriorated more and more due to a combination of reasons such as an unfree economic system, wars, decline of Bruges trade and mainly due to the silting up of het Zwin. The naval battle of Sluis in 1603 has a previous history of clashes between Spanish galleys and Dutch and English ships. The objective was the control of the harbour of Sluis for the protection of the Dutch and English trading fleet. At the naval battles both parties had varying success but the result was that Sluis remained in Spanish hands. At the battle of 1603 about 800 died in the Spanish camp, amongst them many slaves who had to row chained in the holds. The Dutch suffered around 40 casualties. In 1604 an army of 11,000 landed nearby Cadzand under command of Maurits Prince of Orange. After taking IJzendijke, Belgian Middelburg and Aardenburg, he finally conquered Sluis. From that moment on Sluis remained in the hands of the Netherlands. In the 16th century Sluis was only partly inhabited. The camp of the State garrison, responsible for the occupation of a extensive defense system of which the present rampart formed an important part, provided a modest prosperity. In 1747-1748 Sluis was occupied by the French. French artillery fire reduced the town to ashes. From 1811 attempts were made to bring about a new economic boost by the construction of a canal Bruges Sluis, however without much result. In 1944 the town was again destroyed by war. After the post-war reconstruction Sluis became a tourist attraction of the first order and with the tourists prosperity returned. In 2002 Sluis lost its independence after nearly 2 centuries as it became part of the new municipality Sluis consisting of the entire West Zeeuws- Flanders.

Opportunities and challenges


Restoration of the Oostpoort (East Gate) and the quay walls.Restoration and museological adaptation of the Belfort.Founding of a Taalhuis (Language centre) in connection to the best known citizen of Sluis Johan Hendrik van Dale. (He compiled the Dutch dictionary)


1. experience in attracting public (visitors 4.5 million a year) has led to a consistent quality of the town as shopping and culinary centre.2. The town Sluis (2.500 inhabitants) hosts fifty restaurants among which a Michelin three-star restaurant.3. The municipality Sluis has a large number of cycling and walking routes.4. The municipality has experience in the management of 17 kilometres of North Sea beach and the fishing and yacht harbour in Breskens.

Need for more information about:

1. Strong means of promotion 2. Cooperation with comparable partners in the touristic field.