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Amersfoort
—  Municipality  —
Koppelpoort (gate)

Flag

Coat of arms
Coordinates: 52°09′N 5°23′E / 52.15°N 5.38°E / 52.15; 5.38
Country Netherlands
Province Utrecht
Area (2006)
 - Total 63.78 km2 (24.6 sq mi)
 - Land 62.88 km2 (24.3 sq mi)
 - Water 0.90 km2 (0.3 sq mi)
Population (30 November 2008)
 - Total 143,235
 - Density 2,211/km2 (5,726.5/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website www.amersfoort.nl

Amersfoort (About this sound pronunciation ) is a municipality and the second largest city of the province of Utrecht in central Netherlands. The city is growing quickly and has a well-preserved medieval core. Amersfoort is one of the largest railway junctions in the country, because of its location on two of the Netherlands' main east-west and north-south rail lines. The town is celebrating its 750th birthday in 2009.[1]

Contents

Population centres

The municipality of Amersfoort consists of the following cities, towns, villages and/or districts: Amersfoort, Hoogland, Hooglanderveen, Stoutenburg Noord, Kattenbroek.

History

Hunter gatherers set up camps in the Amersfoort region in the Mesolithic period. Archaeologists have found traces of these camps, such as the remains of hearths, and sometimes microlithic flint objects, to the north of the city.

Amersfoort, small bridge across the canal
Amersfoort, brasserie

Remains of settlements in the Amersfoort area from around 1000 BC have been found, but the name Amersfoort, after a ford in the Amer River, today called the Eem, did not appear until the 11th century. The city grew around what is now known as the central square, the Hof, where the Bishops of Utrecht established a court in order to control the "Gelderse vallei" area, and was granted city rights in 1259 by the bishop of Utrecht Henry I van Vianden. A first defensive wall, made out of brick, was finished around 1300. Soon after, the need for enlargement of the city became apparent and around 1380 the construction of a new wall was begun and completed around 1450. The famous Koppelpoort, a combined land and water gate, is part of this second wall. The first wall was demolished and houses were built in its place. Today's Muurhuizen (wallhouses) Street is at the exact location of the first wall; the fronts of the houses are built on top of the first city wall’s foundations.

The famous Koppelpoort in Amersfoort, at night.

The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwentoren tower (The Tower of Our Lady)[2] is one of the tallest medieval church towers in the Netherlands at 98 metres (322 ft). The construction of the tower and the church was started in 1444. The church was destroyed by an explosion in 1787, but the tower survived, and the layout of the church still can be discerned today through the use of different types of stone in the pavement of the open space that was created. It is now the reference point of the RD coordinate system, the coordinate grid used by the Dutch topographical service: the RD coordinates are (155.000, 463.000).

The inner city of Amersfoort has been preserved well since the Middle Ages. Apart from the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren, the Koppelpoort , and the Muurhuizen (Wall-houses), there is also the Sint-Joris church, the canal-system with its bridges, as well as medieval and other old buildings; many are designated as national monuments. In the Middle Ages, Amersfoort was an important centre for the textile industry, and there were a large number of breweries.

In the 18th century the city flourished because of the cultivation of tobacco, but from about 1800 onwards began to decline. The decline was halted by the establishment of the first railway connection in 1863, and, some years later, by the building of a substantial number of infantry and cavalry barracks, which were needed to defend the western cities of the Netherlands. After the 1920s growth stalled again, until in 1970 the national government designated Amersfoort, then numbering some 70,000 inhabitants, as a "growth city". In 2009 the population stands at 140,000 plus, with an expected 150,000 by 2012.

Second World War

Since Amersfoort was the largest garrison town in the Netherlands before the outbreak of the Second World War, with eight barracks, the whole population of then 43,000 was evacuated ahead of the expected invasion by the Germans in May 1940. After four days of battle, the population was allowed to return.

There was a functioning Jewish community in the town, at the beginning of the war numbering about 700 people. Half of them were deported and killed, mainly in Auschwitz and Sobibor. In 1943, the synagogue, dating from 1727, was severely damaged on the orders of the then Nazi-controlled city government. It was restored and opened again after the war, and has been served since by a succession of rabbis.

There was a concentration camp near the city of Amersfoort during the war. The camp, officially called Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort (Police Transit Camp Amersfoort), better known as Kamp Amersfoort, was actually located in the neighbouring municipality of Leusden. After the war the leader of the camp, Joseph Kotälla, was sentenced to death.

Origin of Keistad (Boulder-city)

Amersfoortse Kei

The nickname for Amersfoort, Keistad (boulder-city), originates in the Amersfoortse Kei, a 9-tonne (19,842 lb) boulder that was dragged from the Soest moors into the city in 1661 by 400 people because of a bet between two landowners. The people got their reward when the winner bought everyone beer and pretzels. Other nearby towns then nicknamed the people of Amersfoort Keientrekker (boulder-dragger/puller). This story embarrassed the inhabitants, and they buried the boulder in the city in 1672, but after it was found again in 1903 it was placed in a prominent spot as a monument.

Culture

Museums

  • The Mondriaan House: birthplace of the painter Piet Mondriaan. Exhibits a lifesize reconstruction of his workshop in Paris. Some temporary shows and work by artists inspired by the painter.
  • Flehite: historic, educational and temporary exhibitions behind a splendid facade. The museum closed in 2007 due to asbestos contamination. It was refurbished and reopened in May 2009.
  • Zonnehof: small elegant modernist building designed by Gerrit Rietveld on an eponymous square just south of the centre with temporary exhibitions of mostly contemporary art.
  • Armando Museum: Work by the painter Armando (who lived in Amersfoort as a child) in a renovated church building. Mostly temporary exhibitions. (Most of the church and the art on exhibition was destroyed in a fire on 22 October 2007.)[3]
  • Dutch Cavalry Museum
  • Culinary Museum

Sports

Amersfoort had its own professional football (soccer) club named HVC. It was founded on 30 July 1973, but disbanded on 30 June 1982 because of financial problems. The swimming pool Sportfondsenbad has an annual nudist day in March for NFN members and donors only.

Other

The city has a zoo, DierenPark Amersfoort, which was founded in 1948.

Transport

Amersfoort train station

Bus

Bus services are provided by three firms: Connexxion, BBA and the Stadsvervoer Nederland. Connexxion provides services in town and to some destinations further afield like Utrecht, while BBA and Stadsvervoer Nederland offer connections to regional destinations.

Rail

Amersfoort has three railway stations:

Road

Two major motorways pass Amersfoort:

Water

The the river Eem (pronounced roughly "aim") begins in Amersfoort, and the town has a port for inland water transport. The Eem connects to the nearby Eemmeer (Lake Eem). The Valleikanaal drains the eastern Gelderse Vallei and joins with other sources to form the Eem in Amersfoort.

Local government

'Koppelpoort' Amersfoort

The municipal council of Amersfoort consists of 39 seats, which are divided as follows:[4]

  • VVD - 6 seats
  • PvdA - 10 seats
  • CDA - 5 seats
  • GroenLinks - 4 seats
  • Jouw Amersfoort - 3 seats
  • ChristenUnie - 3 seats
  • SP - 3 seats
  • Burger Partij Amersfoort - 5 seats
  • PAPA (Politieke Actiepartij Amersfoort - not represented)
  • NCPN (Nieuwe Communistische Partij Nederland - not represented)

The city has a court of first instance (kantongerecht) and a regional chamber of commerce.

Economy

The city is a main location for several international companies:

  • Yokogawa, an electrical engineering and software company, it's European headquarters is located in Amersfoort.
  • Nutreco, animal feed and human foodstuffs
  • Arcadis, international consultants and engineers in infrastructure and environment, 14,000 employees
  • DHV, consultants and engineers.
  • Golden Tulip Hotels, international hotel chain Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns and Resorts.
  • Extron Electronics, manufacturers of AV control systems.

It also has a number of non-profit associations and foundations:

  • VEH, the largest home-owners association in the Netherlands; with 700,000 members, it is also the largest in the world
  • NVA, the national association of insurance agents
  • the KNLTB, the Dutch national lawn-tennis association.

Notable people born in Amersfoort

See also People from Amersfoort

Sister cities

See also

References

  1. ^ "Home Page" (in Dutch). Amersfoort 750. http://www.amersfoort750.nl/. Retrieved 24 January 2009.  
  2. ^ "Onze Lieve Vrouwentoren". SkyscraperCity. http://www.skyscrapercity.info/100.php?id=4&bid=1185. Retrieved 26 March 2008.  
  3. ^ "Armando Museum fire". Armandomuseum.nl. 22 October 2007. http://www.armandomuseum.nl. Retrieved 4 November 2007.  
  4. ^ "Zetelverdeling en stemaantallen" (in Dutch). Gemeente Amersfoort. http://www.amersfoort.nl/smartsite.shtml?id=157252. Retrieved 26 March 2008.  

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Amersfoort [1] is an originally mediaeval city to the east of Amsterdam and Utrecht. It is at the edge of their commuting area, and has expanded in recent years. The city centre (the mediaeval city) is full of historic buildings and streets, and there is accessible forest in to the west and south. The city of Amersfoort (municipality) has about 135, 000 inhabitants, the urban region about 250, 000.

Amersfoort is located in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands, bordering on the province of Gelderland.

Understand

Geography and history

Amersfoort takes its name from a ford (voorde) in the Eem river, which was once called the 'Emer' or 'Amer', at the edge of higher ground, the Utrecht ridge. The ford is on the shortest route across low marshy ground, from the ridge to the nearest higher ground on the east. As a result, Amersfoort was, and still is, on the main road from the western Netherlands to northern Germany,and the later Amsterdam - Berlin railway followed this route. The low-lying area between the Utrecht and Veluwe ridges is called the Valley of Gelderland, Gelderse Vallei, and it is now a zone of intensive farming.

The first written record of the settlement was in 1028. In the 12th century the Bishopric of Utrecht fortified it (because of its strategic location), and in 1259 granted it city rights. The first city wall of stone was built in the late 13th century. Around 1380 a new wall was built: some of the city gates still survive. The city was a late mediaeval pilgrimage centre, and in 1444 began the construction of a cathedral. Most of it was destroyed in an explosion in 1787, but the tower survives, one of the highest in the country. Because of its visibility, it was was the starting point for the accurate triangulation of the country, and it is still the true origin of the Dutch national grid (coordinates 463.000, 155.000).

Amersfoort's mediaeval industries were cloth and beer: in the 18th century it prospered due to the locally-grown tobacco. The railway began the modern expansion. In recent years growth has accelerated, with suburban expansion mainly to the north.

Get in

By bicycle

You can cycle from Amsterdam to Amersfoort in about 4 hours. Utrecht to Amersfoort takes about 90 minutes. The long-distance cycle route LF9, from Breda in the south, to the German border at Nieuweschans, at passes through Amersfoort. (There is also a route variant which passes outside the city).

By train

Amersfoort station is a rail junction. One line comes from Amsterdam via Hilversum, another from Utrecht. Beyond Amersfoort, they split. The main line to the east goes to Apeldoorn, Deventer, and on to Enschede. The line north-east to Zwolle is the main line to the north of the country, to Leeuwarden and Groningen. Trains arrive and depart at similar times on both sides of the platform, so you need to be careful about which train you board. There are two suburban stations, Schothorst and Vathorst. The main station is served by...

  • from Amsterdam: 2 Intercity trains per hour, in 33 minutes, and 2 slower trains
  • from Utrecht: 4 Intercity trains per hour, in 14 minutes
  • from Ede-Wageningen station, connecting with trains from Arnhem, every 30 minutes, journey takes 33 minutes.

The Berlin - Amsterdam international trains also stop at Amersfoort, 3 trains per day, and one more from Hannover (with a connection from Berlin).

By bus

Amersfoort is served by regional bus lines, some with limited services. The main bus lines run every 30 minutes: line 80 from Wageningen, and three with parallel rail routes: the 70 from Hilversum, the 101 from Harderwijk and the 102 from Apeldoorn.

Get around

Amersfoort does have a city bus network, with 10 lines, but services are not as frequent as you would expect, in a city this size. The city centre is small enough to walk everywhere, the station is 10 minutes walk from the centre. Outside the centre, the best way to get around is to cycle. Car access to the city centre is restricted.

See

The roughly circular historic centre is the main attraction of Amersfoort. The Eem river runs diagonally through the old city, south-east to northwest, from the Monnickendam to the Koppelpoort. It is crossed at right angles by the Langestraat, part of the old highway from Utrecht to Zwolle, and still the main street. The station is on the west side, and the Town Hall is at the western edge of the old city, on the road to the station. Most of the office buildings in the centre are located on or near this road. Apart from the Langestraat, most of the shopping streets are on the west side of the centre also. Specific sights include:

  • the remains of the second city wall, which is still intact on much of the eastern side, and the water gate Monnickendam on the south.
  • the Koppelpoort - probably the best preserved city gate in the country, a dual water and road entrance to the city, built over the river Eem.
  • Amersfoortse Kei - this glacial boulder is the symbol for the city. A 17th-century nobleman and poet persuaded 400 inhabitants to drag the stone to Amersfoort, for beer, just to show they would do something useless. The incident made the city the butt of jokes, and it buried the stone for centuries, out of shame. In 1903 the city felt sufficiently rehabilitated to dig it up again, and it became its symbol. In fact, the city started to collect boulders, gifts from other cities: they are displayed on the inner ring road, along the line of the old city wall.
  • Muurhuizen or wall houses, built on the first mediaeval city wall. They back onto the canal along 't Zand, Weverssingel, Zuidsingel and Westsingel.
  • the Onze Lieve Vrouwe tower, the former cathedral spire. You can climb the 364 steps on a guided tour, Tuesday to Sunday, every hour from 11.00 to 17.00, from July to mid-September, € 4.
  • the Sint Joriskerk, the largest church, on the main square, Hof, with the old Town Hall.

Do

Cycling around Amersfoort

There are several signposted cycle routes around Amersfoort. Shorter circular routes are signposted in one direction, taking several hours: follow the route signs (usually hexagonal). The Eemland Route starts in Amersfoort. The Nieuwe Vuursche Route passes the western edge of the city. The much longer Eneco Veluwe Route passes the eastern edge, and the nearby village of Hoevelaken. The route is 265 km long, not counting three short-cuts and two diversions. The route website www.enecoveluweroute.nl, is in Dutch, but has an interactive map. Another long route, Rondje Utrecht, a circle around the Province of Utrecht, passes the city centre.

The LF9 is a long cross-country route, signposted in both directions. It starts in Breda, near the Belgian border, and follows approximately the 0 metre contour. In principle, everything west of this line would disappear under sea water, if there were no artificial barriers. It runs through Utrecht, and after Amersfoort follows the old coastline to Zwolle, and goes through Groningen to the German border (325 km).

However, you don't need to follow a route: most of the surrounding region is suitable for cycling. The most interesting routes are east and north-east to the Veluwe forests about 20 km away, east and south to the forest at the edge of the city, north along the river Eem and toward the former coastline, and south-east along the Gelderse Vallei toward Wageningen.

Boat and bike

From April to October, on 5 days each week, there is a boat service along the Eem and out into the former sea, to Huizen or Spakenburg. It is mainly intended for cyclists, who combine a river and cycle trip by getting on or off the boat, along the riverbank. The round trip takes almost 8 hours, and costs € 18, shorter sections cost € 3 to € 9. Timetable at the website www.eemlijn.nl.

Canoe

There is a signposted canoe route around Amersfoort, see map and photos at http://home.planet.nl/~vortex1/nl-leusden.htm. Canoes can be rented at Kanocentrum boerderij Berg, Langesteeg 2a, 3831 RZ Leusden. Tel. 033-4945352.

Buy

Every Friday and Saturday there is a market in the square in the center of Amersfoort

Eat

Mexican: Marimba. Southwest corner of Het Hof (the square) in the center of Amersfoort. Marimba Web Site

Drink

There are plenty of bars around in the old City centre. The most important clusters of bars can be found on the two main squares (Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof and Hof), Two of the better pubs there are Lobbes and Blauwe Engel, The Boothill Saloon (in Krankeledenstraat, near Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerkhof), Irish Pub Long John (also Krankenledenstraat) and 't Nonnetje (in Groenmarkt) are great places to go out.

Prices are, as in most Dutch pubs, somewhat high . In Long John a pint of Guinness might, for instance, set you back € 4.50, although the other pubs are slightly cheaper.

  • 3 Ringen Brewery, a microbrewery well worth a visit.

Get out

You can travel on from Amersfoort in several directions, see 'Get in' for main train routes. There are many other destinations in the vicinity. The last train back to Amsterdam is at 00.07 (2007 timetable, valid from 10 December 2006). http://www.ns.nl (link to dutch railway website)

Bus

The most useful routes are bus line 101 through several villages to the town of Harderwijk, line 80 to Rhenen and Wageningen and the 102 across the forested Veluwe to Apeldoorn. It connects with line 104, the only way to reach the smaller villages in the northern Veluwe.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Amersfoort is a city in the middle of the Netherlands. It has about 140,000 inhabitants. The city is located between the hills of the "Heuvelrug" and the valley of the river Eem.








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