Makkum was known as the gateway to the Zuiderzee for its locks which were owned by the neighboring monastery. This strategic position meant Makkum could develop to an important centre of trade.
The Golden Age of Makkum started in the 17th century and lasted until the 18th century. Makkum became an important center of trade and industry, including brick works, wind-powered saw-, oil-, paper-, and pealing mills, ship yards and seashell lime kilns. The lime kiln industry was the major pillar of Makkums prosperity employing many people. The high quality quicklime produced was amongst others used in house construction in Amsterdam.
Transport of base materials and end products was by ship which caused shipping and ship construction to flourish. Seashell fishing was of importance next to common fisheries.
The 19th century brought economical decline caused by the siltation of the Zuiderzee which made the harbor of Makkum unreachable. Only shipyards and potteries remained.
Lately tourism has developed strongly in Makkum from the attraction of water sports. Recreational area "De Holle Poarte" with its beach, campsite, holiday homes and boulevard attracts many visitors every year.