The Oldest Town In Delaware That Everyone Should Visit At Least Once

The history of the earliest settlement in Delaware is much like the Swamp Castle scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the King explains that he built his estate, and then it sank, and then he rebuilt it, and it sank again, and he built it a third time – and then it burnt down, fell over and again sank into the mud. But on the fourth time, it stood. The same can be said for Lewes.

The Dutch first settled in Lewes in June of 1631, turning it into a whaling and trading spot called “Zwaanendael.” A year later, a local tribe of Native Americans wiped out the settlers rather easily. The Dutch were hesitant to return, until Amsterdam laid claim to the area around Cape Henlopen to keep it out of British hands. This second settlement, in 1663, also lasted just one year before the English destroyed it, leaving nothing but rubble – and taking even most of the rubble for themselves.

The resilient Dutch gradually rebuilt the area around the Cape, and in 1673 the area was again attacked and burned down by soldiers from Maryland. England kept the area this time, until 1682, when all of Delaware was given to William Penn by the King of England. Penn renamed the settlement “Lewes,” and this time, the town stayed up. Come wander through this quaint, charming Delaware town to really feel like you’re a part of history, and a part of a life that the Dutch and English could have never imagined when they began to build it up.

Have you visited Lewes? If not, you need to plan a day to visit this lovely, historic city! Maybe make it a stop on your next Delaware weekend road trip.