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Amersfoort 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 celebrates its 750th birthday in 2009.[1]

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 to the north of Amersfoort, such as the remains of hearths, and sometimes microlithic flint objects.

Remains of settlements in the Amersfoort area from around 1000 BC have been found, but the name Amersfoort, named 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 Hendrik 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.

File:Binnenstad koppelpoort.jpg

The famous Koppelpoort in Amersfoort, at night.

The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwentoren tower (The Tower of Our Lady] is one of the tallest medieval church towers in the Netherlands. 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 very 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 bridged, as well as medieval and other old buildings in the inner city are well-preserved and mostly 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. From about 1800 onwards, the city came into decline, lasting until the first railway connection was established in 1863, and some years later a substantial number of infantry and cavalery baracks were constructed, their location being prompted by the need to defend the western cities in 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, so that per 2009 the population stands at 140,000-plus, aiming at 150,000 per 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)[]

File:Kei2.jpg

Amersfoortse Kei

The nickname for Amersfoort, Keistad (boulder-city), originates in the Amersfoortse Kei, a ((convert|9|t|lb|0|lk=on|adj=on)) 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, but after it was found again in 1903 it was placed in a prominent spot as a monument.

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. Closed until at least 2008 due to asbestos contamination.
  • 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 exhib. (Most of the church and the art on exhibition was destroyed in a fire on October 22 2007.)[2]
  • Culinary Museum

Transport[]

File:Amersfoort train station.jpg

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:

  • Amersfoort, the main station, which has trains to Enschede, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Amsterdam and Leeuwarden/Groningen
  • Amersfoort Schothorst, to the north of Amersfoort station.
  • Amersfoort Vathorst, to the north of Amersfoort Schothorst.

Road[]

Two major motorways pass Amersfoort:

  • to the north, the A1 motorway (Amsterdam - Apeldoorn)
  • to the east, the A28 motorway (Utrecht - Groningen)

Water[]

The the river Eem (pronounce: aim) begins in Amersfoort, and the town has a port for inland water transport. The Eem connects to the nearby Veluwemeer (Lake Veluwe). The Valleinkanaal drains the eastern Gelderse Vallei and joins with other sources to form the Eem in Amersfoort.

Local government[]

File:Koppelpoort Amersfoort.jpg

'Koppelpoort' Amersfoort

The municipal council of Amersfoort consists of 39 seats, which are divided as follows:[3]

  • 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:

  • Nutreco, animal and human foodstuff
  • Arcadis, international consultants and engineers in infrastructure and environment, 14,000 employees
  • DHV, consultants and engineers.

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

  • VEH, the largest house-owners association in the Netherlands, with 700,000 members 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
  • Paulus Buys (1531-1594) – grand pensionary
  • Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619) – statesman
  • Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) – painter
  • Johannes Heesters (1903) – pro-Nazi actor, singer and entertainer
  • Ben Pon (1936) – sports car racing driver and developer of the VW-bus
  • Loet Geutjes (1943) – water polo player
  • Feike de Vries (1943) – water polo player
  • Anke Rijnders (1956) – swimmer
  • Frank Drost (1963) – swimmer
  • Jan Wagenaar (1965) – water polo player
  • Arie van de Bunt (1969) – water polo goalkeeper

Miscellaneous[]

  • The city had its own professional football (soccer) club named HVC. It was founded on July 30, 1973, but due to financial problems disbanded on June 30, 1982.
  • The swimming pool Sportfondsenbad has an annual nudist day in March for NFN members and donors only.[4]
  • Amersfoort is the host of an ATP professional tennis tournament, named Priority Telecom Open, which has been held each year in July since 2002.
  • The city has a zoo, 'DierenPark Amersfoort', which was founded in 1948.

External links[]

  1. ((Cite web|url= http://www.amersfoort750.nl/%7Ctitle= Home Page|publisher= Amersfoort 750|language= Dutch|accessdate= 2009-01-24))
  2. ((cite news| title =Armando Museum fire| publisher =Armandomuseum.nl| url =http://www.armandomuseum.nl%7C date =2007-10-22| accessdate =2007-11-04))
  3. ((cite web |url= http://www.amersfoort.nl/smartsite.shtml?id=157252%7Ctitle= Zetelverdeling en stemaantallen|accessdate=2008-03-26|language= Dutch|publisher= Gemeente Amersfoort))
  4. Reference at Wikipedia in German
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