When I read about Sint Anna ter Muiden and a couple sources mentioned that it was one of the most beautiful towns in the Netherlands, I was very curious. This small town is the most western point of the Netherlands and it only has 50 people (as of 2006). This makes Sint Anna ter Muiden the smallest town in the Netherlands and an absolutely stunning one, only 300 meters from the Belgian border. It’s right next to Sluis, one of the cities of Zeeland, so it’s easy to visit for an hour or two if you’re in the area. I’ll be discussing the history of this fascinating and beautiful off the beaten path town in the Netherlands.
This tiny town received its city rights in 1242 although it’s not a city anymore. It’s a little hard to imagine now, but the city was a bustling medieval trading hub as it was near the Port of Bruges. At this time, the town was called Mude. Unforunately, Sluis took Mude’s glory and at one point, the inhabitants of Sluis set the city on fire. The name changed at one point to honor the church. (Mude turned to Muiden within the name.)
Sint Anne ter Muiden has not been lucky and the town was burned down in 1405. Unlike many cities in Zeeland, this city remained part of the republic of the Netherlands while the much of the region was occupied by the Spanish. In 1880, the city was demoted into a dorp (a village) and added to Sluis. Since 1967, the town has been a protected cityscape.
You can still see the city pump with the city coat of arms that dates back to the late 1700s in the city center, which has been well maintained. Similarly, you can view the City Hall dating back to the 1600s at Marktplein 12. (It has a bell.)
One of the notable sights of Sint Anna ter Muiden is the Reformed Church of Sint Anna ter Muiden, named in honor of Saint Anna. It was first built in the 14th century, however it was destroyed during the Eight Year War. The imposing fortress tower is all that remained, so the church that you can see today was rebuilt in the remnants. At one point, a fierce thunderstorm destroyed the church’s stained glass windows. This Gothic church has been carefully restored using Bank Giro (Dutch Lottery) funds and it’s finally back to its former glory. We were unable to enter, but we were struck by how fortress-like this church was.
Our wander through Sint Anna ter Muiden was quite brief as it’s a very small town, but we felt like the only ones there. It’s a beautiful little town where it feels like time has stood still. The cute little houses make the entire town a special destination where you can truly feel that you are somewhere unique.
An interesting note is that there’s an abandoned former monastery at Sint Annastraat 151 known as “Klooster La Pommarie.” It was built in 1909 and its had different functions over time although the abbey is remarkably well maintained from reports that I read online. I didn’t dare to enter, but the videos of this ghost monastery were stunning to watch. It’s illegal to enter this building.
Staying in Sint Anna ter Muiden
It’s possible to actually stay in Sint Anna ter Muiden as there are two hotels in this charming town. I could definitely see it as a great place to have an offline weekend, relax by the beach, or write a medieval novel without distractions. Villa St. Anna, a cozy vacation house in a 17th century building, is your main option in the town.
How to get to Sint Anna ter Muiden
It’s a 20 minute walk from Sluis to Sint Anna ter Muiden. In order to get to this town, it’s easiest with a car, especially if you’re visiting Zeeland on a day trip from Bruges. However, it is possible to visit from Bruges on a day trip with making two transfers as the bus will take about 1.5 hours. If you’re visiting, be sure to visit Sluis, the pretty Retranchement natural area, and the beach close to Cadzand. We easily found parking. 😉