Maritime Delfzijl

Maritime Delfzijl, fortified settlement with an illustrious past

A visit to a harbour is always interesting. Water offers exciting views and special locations. And that certainly applies to Delfzijl. In recent decades, for example, Delfzijl has become an important industrial port. And before that, Delfzijl was the maritime centre of the northern part of the Netherlands.

There are therefore many stories about Delfzijl. You can see and experience some of them in the Muzeeaquarium. Or take a walk around the town, perhaps based on the theme of the town as a fortified settlement, art or architecture. For example, Delfzijl is the birthplace of the famous detective Maigret created by the author Simenon. It was here that he invented this character while his ship was being repaired in 1927. And are you interested in architecture? Have a look at the Amsterdam School district. Or climb the only outdoor pavilion in Europe by the famous Austrian architects Coop Himmelb(l)au in the harbour.

Shops, food and drink

The shopping centre in Delfzijl is unusual because it is situated inside the contours of the former fortress. You access the harbour through two old water gates. The harbour provides wonderful views over the marina and the industrial area further up the coast. Of course, there are plenty of places to eat and drink in the centre and along the waterfront of Delfzijl. In the harbour, at hotel-restaurant De Boegschroef, on the dyke at the Eemshotel and at fish restaurant the Kleine Zeemeermin looking out over the mud plates of the Eems estuary. In the centre, popular establishments include Brasserie Ziel and Grand Café 't Lokaal.


With so much water around, there is always a place for the leisure boater in one of the marinas in Delfzijl: outside the dyke at Zeilvereniging Neptunus and inside the dyke on the Oude-Eemskanaal at Jachthaven 't Dok.

Maritime Delfzijl, fortified settlement with an illustrious past

Since ancient times, Delfzijl has been a fortified settlement on the Eems. The settlement was created in around 1300 when a sluice (canal) was constructed at the mouth of a drainage canal, the Delf. This gave the place its name Delfzijl. That canal is now called Damsterdiep and runs all the way to the city of Groningen.

The history of Delfzijl has always been linked with water. The settlement was already inhabited in around 1350, after which the population grew steadily. The natural harbour basin of Delfzijl meant that there was soon a lock and transhipment place for sea-going ships and barges.

Strategically situated

The location of Delfzijl was not only economically interesting. In military terms, it was also considered a strategic site. Over the centuries, Delfzijl was fought over several times. In 1591, Prince Maurits overcame the Spaniards. Then in 1795, the French captured Delfzijl and at the end of the Second World War there was heavy fighting around Delfzijl up until two days before the Germans capitulated.

There is not much left of the old fort. However, the street pattern is still as it was in olden days. There are still the drainage sluices and part of the moat is also present. But the old wall was dug up in around 1875.

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