Once upon a time, Retranchement was an important military bulwark that controlled the mouth of the Zwin. It consisted of Fort Nassau, built by the States after the Twelve Years’ Truce on a site where they had already constructed a redoubt in 1604. A kilometre further north, the States built Fort Oranje. Both forts were linked with two embankments, hence the name Retranchement Cadsandria. Retranchement is French for ‘entrenchment’. Three bastions were built on the entrenchment on the land side. In front of this entrenchment was a moat.
The stronghold gradually grew into a real village which lost its military function in 1680. At the end of the eighteenth century, the stronghold underwent two refurbishments when war threatened. But in 1795, its role definitively came to an end. Today only the well preserved steep embankments and moats and the Fort Nassau are evidence of Retranchement’s strategically important past. Retranchement is a real jewel in the landscape and the embankments and moats are home to rare plants and animals. A footpath crosses a large part of the embankments.