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—  Municipality  —
Thorbeckegracht in Zwolle


Coat of arms
Location of Zwolle in Overijssel, Netherlands
Coordinates: 52°30′N 6°5′E / 52.5°N 6.083°E / 52.5; 6.083
Country Netherlands
Province Overijssel
Area (2006)
 - Total 119.28 km2 (46.1 sq mi)
 - Land 112.11 km2 (43.3 sq mi)
 - Water 7.17 km2 (2.8 sq mi)
Population (1 May 2009)
 - Total 118,192
 Density 1,054/km2 (2,729.8/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Ltspkr.png Zwolle is a municipality and the capital city of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, 120 kilometers northeast of Amsterdam. Zwolle has about 115,000 citizens.[1]



Archaeological findings indicate that the area surrounding Zwolle has been inhabited for a long time. A woodhenge that was found in the Zwolle-Zuid suburb in 1993 was dated to the Bronze Age period.[2][3] During the Roman era, the area was inhabited by Salian Franks.

The modern city was founded around 800 A.D. by Frisian merchants and troops of Charlemagne.[4] The name Zwolle is derived from the word Suolle, which means "hill" (cf. the English cognate verb "to swell"). This refers to an incline in the landscape between the four rivers surrounding the city, IJssel, Vecht, Aa and Zwarte Water. The hill was the only piece of land that would remain dry during the frequent floodings of the rivers. Zwolle was established on that incline.

A document mentions the existence of a parish church dedicated to St Michael. That church, the Grote or Sint Michaëlskerk (big or Saint Michael church), was renovated in the first half of the 15th century and exists to this day. The church contains a richly carved pulpit, the work of Adam Straes van Weilborch (about 1620), some good carving and an exquisite organ (1721).

On August 31, 1230, the bishop of Utrecht granted Zwolle city rights. Zwolle became a member of the Hanseatic league in 1294, and in 1361 joined the war between the Hanseatic League and Valdemar IV of Denmark. In the 1370 Treaty of Stralsund that ended the war, Zwolle was awarded a vitte, a trade colony, in Scania, Sweden. Zwolle's golden age came in the 15th century. Between 1402 and 1450, the city's Gross Regional Product multiplied by about six.[5]

In July 1324 and in October 1361, regional noblemen set fire to Zwolle. In the 1324 fire, only nine buildings escaped the flames.[6]

Map of Zwolle by Joan Blaeu in Blaeu's "Toonneel der Steden", 1652

Zwolle was also, with Deventer, one of the centers of the Brethren of the Common Life, a monastic movement. Three miles from Zwolle, on a slight eminence called the Agnietenberg, (hill of St Agnes), once stood the Augustinian convent in which Thomas à Kempis spent the greatest part of his life and died (in 1471).

At least as early as 1911, Zwolle had a considerable trade by river, a large fish market, and the most important cattle market in the Netherlands after Rotterdam. The more important industries comprised cotton manufactures, iron works, boat-building, dyeing and bleaching, tanning, rope-making, and salt-making.[7]


In 2004, Zwolle's De Librije restaurant was honored with 3 stars by Michelin Guide; as of 2007, with the demotion of Parkheuvel from 3 to 1 star, it is one of only two restaurants so honored in the entire country.



Citizens of Zwolle are colloquially known as Blauwvingers (Bluefingers). This dates back to a local legend that the local authorities were one day strapped for cash and saw no option but to sell church bells to neighbouring city Kampen. To make sure Kampen did not make too much profit from the deal, the local authorities asked a high price for the church bells. Kampen agreed to the deal, on the condition that they could choose their own way of paying for the church bells. Zwolle consented, and Kampen paid in copper coins of four duiten (the equivalent of 2-and-a-half cents). Because of their distrust, Zwolle wanted to be sure Kampen had truly paid the entire price. The local authorities therefore counted the money until their fingers had turned blue from the copper.[8][9]



Besides the Grote or Sint Michaëlskerk (the latter which houses a majestic Baroque organ built by Arp Schnitger), there are several other historic monuments in Zwolle. The Roman Catholic Onze Lieve Vrouwe ten Hemelopneming-basilica (Our Lady Ascension) dates back to 1399. The church tower, called Peperbus (pepperbox), is one of the tallest and most famous church towers in the Netherlands. The modernized town hall was originally built in 1448.


Mention should also be made of the Sassenpoort (one of the old city gates), the city walls, the Mosterdmakerstoren (mustard makers' tower)(the complex where local mustard used to be made), a guild-house (1571), the former provincial government offices, a Dominican monastery, and a museum of antiquities and natural history.


See also People from Zwolle
Arts, culture, entertainment and the media
  • Hein Boele (born November 24, 1939), actor, Dutch voice of Elmo
  • Jonnie Boer (born 1965), chef with three Michelin stars
  • Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681), painter
  • Tooske Breugem (born 1974), television host actress
  • Herman Brood (November 5, 1946–July 11, 2001), painter/rock star
  • Eef Brouwers (born 1939), journalist and former head of the Netherlands Government Information Service
  • A. den Doolaard (February 7, 1901–June 26, 1994), author
  • Rhijnvis Feith (1753–1824), author
  • Bennie den Haan (born February 3, 1970), actor
  • Eli Heimans (1861–1914), author
  • Marnix Kappers (born 1943), actor
  • Master I. A. M. of Zwolle (c. 1440-1490), engraver
  • Ton Koopman (born 1944), a conductor, organist, and harpsichordist
  • Yuri Landman (born 1973), experimental musical instrument builder, comic book artist
  • Robbie Muntz (born 1963), television and radio maker
  • Opgezwolle, rap crew
  • Everhardus Johannes Potgieter (1808–1875), author
  • Joan Remmelts (August 12, 1905–December 19, 1987), actor
  • Danny Rook (born October 6, 1971), television host
  • Emmy van Swoll (August 6, 1897–May 27, 1990), actor
  • Bert Tigchelaar (1946–2004), journalist, news correspondent in Berlin
  • Jan Vayne (Jan Veenje) (born 1966), pianist
  • Charlotte Wessels, singer of Delain
  • Michael Minsky (1918–1988), singer and conductor
IT Specialists
  • Erik ter Beeke, IT Professional born 24 oktober, 1981

Educational institutions

Zwolle is home to four institutes of technology:

Zwolle railway station with ICM train


Zwolle is located on or near three rivers (Zwarte Water, Vecht, and IJssel), several canals (the now disused Willemsvaart, Nieuwe Vecht and Overijssels Kanaal and the modern Zwolle-IJssel Kanaal).

As for transportation by land:

Zwolle is connected by the following three major roads:

The first train in Zwolle arrived on June 6, 1864. Today the city has rail connections in seven directions.(viz. Kampen, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Emmen, Enschede, Arnhem/Nijmegen, and Amersfoort).

A rail connection with Amsterdam via Lelystad will open in 2012. For more information see Hanzelijn.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Zwolle is twinned with: Zwolle is currently twinned with:

In the past, Zwolle had partnerships with:


  1. ^ "Bevolking becijferd 2006" (in Dutch) (PDF). Municipality of Zwolle. August 2006. pp. 12.$file/bevolking_becijferd_2006.pdf. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  2. ^ Theo Holleman (1996), Een verleden op de schop, University Press, Amsterdam, ISBN 9053561897
  3. ^ Hove, ten J. (2005). Geschiedenis van Zwolle Zwolle: Waanders. ISBN 9040090505
  4. ^ F.C. Berkenvelder (1980). "Het begin" (in Dutch). Zwolle 750 jaar stad. Waanders. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  5. ^ F.C. Berkenvelder (1980). "De handel en de Hanze" (in Dutch). Zwolle 750 jaar stad. Waanders. Retrieved 2007-03-17. "De stedelijke geldmiddelen, het nationaal inkomen zouden wij nu zeggen, die in 1402 nog 6.000 gulden bedroegen waren in 1450 bijna verzesvoudigd tot 34.000 gulden. (Translated: The city's financial resources, the national income as we would now call it, which were 6,000 guilders in 1402, had by 1450 multiplied by six to 34,000 guilders.)" 
  6. ^ "Zwolle op keerpunt van bestaan" (in Dutch). De Stentor. 2005-03-02. 
  7. ^ "Zwolle". Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. 1911. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  8. ^ Boxma, Willem (2001). "Steuren, blauwvingers, kwekweschudders en tukkers. Schimpnamen in Overijssel" (in Dutch). Traditie. Tijdschrift over tradities en trends. 2: 26–27. ISSN 1382-4104. 
  9. ^ "In welke stad wonen de blauwvingers?" (in Dutch). Nederlands Centrum voor Volkscultuur. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Zwolle is the capital of the Dutch province of Overijssel.


In medieval times, Zwolle was an important and wealthy city, a member of the Hanseatic League. Many of the buildings erected in those glory days still remain.

Get in

By car

From Amsterdam, Zwolle can be reached by taking the A1 and then the A28. Under normal circumstances it takes about an hour to reach Zwolle from Amsterdam / Schiphol Airport.

By train

Direct intercity services connect Zwolle to Amsterdam as well as Schiphol Airport. In both cases, the journey will take about 90 minutes.


Just north of Zwolle's railway station lies its compact medieval centre. Most of the walls once surrounding it have been demolished, but it is still clearly delineated by the defensive canal. Within walking distance of each other you can find many old picturesque old buildings, including:

  • Main Church, 18 Grote Markt.  edit
  • Sassenpoort, 51 Sassenstraat. Beautiful large gate building  edit

Other attractions include:


Zwolse Balletjes

  • De Librije, +31(0)38 - 4212083 (), [2]. One of the Netherlands' most prestigious restaurants, awarded 3 Michelin stars in 2004, run by celebrity chef Jonnie Boer.  edit

Get out

The smaller but equally picturesque city of Kampen lies about 10 km west of Zwolle. Further to the north lie the unique and very picturesque Giethoorn (sometimes called the "Green Venice") and the Weerribben National Park. The forests about 20 km to the east, around the town of Ommen, are a great area for cycling.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ZWOLLE, the capital of the province of Overysel, Holland, on the Zwarte Water, and a junction station 242 m. N.E. of Harderwyk. Pop. (1905) 2 3,773. It is the centre of the whole northern and eastern canal systems, and by means of the short canal, the Willemsvaart, which joins the Zwarte Water and the Ysel, has regular steamboat communication with Kampen and Amsterdam. The Groote Kerk, of St Michael (first half of the 15th century) occupies the site of an earlier church of which an interesting 11 th-century bas-relief remains. The church contains a richly carved pulpit, the work of Adam Straes van Weilborch about 1620, and there is besides some good carving and a fine organ (1721). The Roman Catholic church, also dedicated to St Michael, dates from the end of the 14th century. The modernized town hall was originally built in 1448. Mention should also be made of the Sassen Poort, one of the old city gates; a gild-house (1571); the provincial government offices, containing the archives; and a museum of antiquities and natural history. Three miles from Zwolle, on a slight eminence called the Agnietenberg, or hill of St Agnes, once stood the Augustinian convent in which Thomas Kempis spent the greatest part of his life and died in 1471. Zwolle has a considerable trade by river, a large fish market, and the most important cattle market in Holland after Rotterdam. The more important industries comprise cotton manufactures, iron works, boat-building, dyeing and bleaching, tanning, rope-making and salt-making.

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