Alphen aan den Rijn


Alphen aan den Rijn is the capital of the eponymous municipality Alphen aan den Rijn, located in the Dutch province of South Holland, on the rivers Oude Rijn and Gouwe in the peat meadow area Groene Hart between the major cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Lead. A resident of Alphen aan den Rijn is called Alphenaar.



Roman time
In Roman times, the course of the Rhine in the Low Countries was for decades a hard-fought border area where many army units were stationed. In the year 12 AD. General Tiberius, later Emperor, accepted the southern bank of the Rhine as the northern border of the Roman Empire (Limes) and from the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula (37-41 AD), fortified encampments with civilian settlements were built along the Rhine to consolidate this boundary. The first citizens were partly from tribes defeated by the Romans, partly they were Germans who saw their advantage in cooperation with the new rulers.

On the spot where now the newly built center of Alphen aan den Rijn is Hoge Zijde, opposite the mouth of the Aar river in the Rhine, was a defensive fortress (Latin: castellum) Albaniana, with labor barracks, workshops (fabrication), hearth places, granary, bath house , streets, wells, canals, watchtowers, defensive walls, river protection and quays. Construction must have started in AD 40, making it one of the oldest Roman fortresses on the Rhine.

In smaller archaeological excavations in the period 1953 to 1998 under the direction of archaeologists and in large-scale excavations in 2001 and 2002 by Radboud University, funded by the municipality, province and the state, thousands of ground traces and tens of thousands, often small, objects from that time have been found. which together tell the archaeological story of Albaniana. One of the most important are the fragments of a limestone slab with inscription from the main stone gate. The Romans probably built the first bridge over the Oude Rijn and they constructed the Canal of Corbula between Maas and Oude Rijn (between Alphen and Leiden).

In the village of Zwammerdam, belonging to the municipality of Alphen, extensive remains of the Roman settlement of Nigrum Pullum were found during archaeological excavations by the University of Amsterdam between 1968-1971. Excavations between 1971-1974 show partly intact remains of six different types of ships from the 2nd century AD. uncovered, a unique archaeological find.

The new inhabitants had new needs and so agriculture, trade and industry developed in and around the Roman settlements. Roman techniques to build buildings on mounds, to protect themselves with dams from the water of rivers, to bake roof tiles and stones in ovens, to build large ships of wood, and so on were adopted. Albaniana slowly grew into a trading center in the region. Germanic attacks made there around 270 AD. an end to.

After many struggles and problems with flooding, especially in Utrecht and Leiden, the Oude Rijn was dammed in 1122 near Wijk bij Duurstede. The branch that first started as 'Lek' became the main stream of the river. Since then, the Oude Rijn has not burst its banks.

Middle Ages
In 1250, the Hof van Alfen is mentioned on the southern bank of the Molenvliet near where it flows into the Rhine. A country estate with a castle. This is in the possession of the Counts of Holland, acquired from the Bishop of Utrecht. The current Hoflaan is a reminder of this. In 1273 a parish priest is appointed and a small church is built on the remains of the castellum, dedicated to Boniface. In 1474, the first water mills appear in the large polder or Kerkpolder (now Kerk en Zanen). In 1494 Jacob Coppier van Kalslagen received the right from Ambachtsheer over the manors of Hof van Alfen and Rietveld with the right to levy taxes and to appoint offices on behalf of the count as administrator.

In 1514 Alphen had about 400 inhabitants, livelihoods are cutting reeds, peat cutting and farming. A century later, the first roof tile and brick factory appears in the Hoorn aan de Rijn.

Alphen flourished in the 17th century. On September 16, 1589, Schout en Ambachtsbewaarders van Alphen and Oudshoorn ordered the construction of a bridge over the Oude Rijn. The Oude Rijn is deepened, the Aarkanaal is dug and in 1664 the towpath between Utrecht and Leiden along the north bank of the Oude Rijn is completed, along which barges can be pulled with people or horses for the transport of goods and people. Livelihoods include shipyards, brick and tile bakeries, pipe bakeries, lime roasters, hemp cultivation, peat cutting, line jobs, saw mills and trade in livestock and dairy products.

From the 18th century it has been reported that several country estates were built along the Rhine, luxurious homesteads for wealthy citizens from Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague, mostly self-catering with a nursery and small animal husbandry, including Brittenrust, Buitenstein and Rust van Onrust.


In the 18th century, the manor became a stopping place for postal drivers and trade by land and water. There will be a post office. Around 1900 Alphen, Oudshoorn and Aarlanderveen have approximately 6000 inhabitants.

In 1918 the municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn is formed. Then the smaller municipalities of Alphen, Aarlanderveen and Oudshoorn were merged. In 1964 the municipality was expanded with a part of Zwammerdam, in 2014 with Boskoop.

The Alphen aan den Rijn coat of arms was awarded on May 8, 1918. It consists of a black eight-pointed star on a white coat of arms. On top of the shield is a golden crown. The shield is held by two golden lions. The coat of arms originally belonged to the Van Alphen family, a branch of the Van Kralingen family. One Dirk van Cralingen (born before 1189) had goods near Alphen and afterwards called himself Van Alphen.

The striking Alphense lift bridge at the Gouwesluis over the Gouwe was built in the late 1930s. The Gouwe was widened to improve the shipping connection between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Similar bridges were built in Boskoop and Waddinxveen. During the Second World War, explosive charges were placed near the bridge to blow it up if necessary, which turned out not to be necessary. However, one of the charges exploded due to lightning. In the 1970s, the bridge was again severely damaged in a collision by a crane truck that was 1.5 meters too high. Parallel to the lift bridge (for road traffic) is a swing bridge for the train.

Post-war boom
Within the national post-war policy that Alphen had to develop as an industrial municipality and play a key role in the Heart of Holland, the village began to grow strongly from the mid-1950s. On the west side, chocolate factory De Baronie was built in the polder as a start for a new industrial area. A connection to the Rotterdam - Amsterdam road route was established via a new high-altitude road bridge over the Oude Rijn, the Koningin Juliana Bridge. Along the Oude Rijn, companies and industry were producing at high speed. A snapshot from that period: Zijerveld's Lemonade Industrie, from 1946 bottler of Coca-Cola, publisher and printing company Samsom (now Wolters Kluwer), engine factory De Industrie, shipyard Boot and De Vries Lentsch, animal feed factory De Leerhoeve, tile factory Het Tegelhuis, varnish factory Varossieau ( now Sigma Coatings, roof tile factory Van Oordt and Oosthoek, fruit juice factory Stockhuijzen, wood trade Sprey, concrete factory Spanbeton (now part of Consolis). The workers (now employees) lived at the factories in small terraced houses in streets next to the factories or across the street at right angles to the Rhine and on the Lage Zijde One of the neighborhoods is still popularly called the Red Village, red was the color of political parties that stood up for the rights of workers.

In the 1960s, the village was expanded on the north side to meet the post-war housing shortage. For this Plan North, sand was pumped from the Zegerplas for reclamation. It was a mixed residential area, with housing law houses, terraced houses (including split-level houses), more luxurious houses and flats. Shopping centers and shopping streets were created in the center and the new districts.

From the nineties, large residential areas south of the railway line, Kerk en Zanen, and business parks were also completed. Alphen initially developed into a commuter city, but more and more jobs were also created within its borders, so that today it is a lively city with a balanced population composition and good employment opportunities. The latest planning developments in the Low Side Center give the old village of the Aar an urban boost.

Alphen aan den Rijn in the news
At the end of the eighties, Alphen aan den Rijn was in the national news. In the period 1977-1982 a lot of poison was found to have been deposited at the rubbish tip in the Coup├ępolder. A golf course was constructed on the Coup├ępolder. Many measures had to be taken to prevent the toxins from entering the groundwater. In that period, Alphen was also popularly called "Waste on the Rhine". When investigating the role of the municipality in the waste dumping, the investigation committee, led by Maarten Engwirda, concluded that the entire municipal administration, but especially the Municipal Executive, had been negligent in supervising the waste dump. Criminal proceedings were also brought against the waste processor and the waste transporter.


On April 9, 2011, Alphen was again in the news nationally, as well as internationally, due to the shooting in the De Ridderhof shopping center. Seven people were killed, including the perpetrator who committed suicide.

On 3 August 2015, there was a notable accident in which two cranes with a new bridge deck for the Queen Juliana Bridge fell from pontoons on the Oude Rijn and ended up on four houses and shops on the Hooftstraat. There were no fatalities because the residents were not at home and shopkeepers were able to leave on time. Afterwards there were many bystanders and residents who thought the pontoon and crane setup was risky and would have stayed away. In the accident, one man was taken from under the rubble alive. A dog was injured and later put to sleep.

The town of Alphen aan den Rijn is located at the junction of the small river Aar and the Oude Rijn, which flows from Utrecht to Leiden and cuts through the city. Alphen is bordered on the east by the Gouwe and the Aarkanaal, and on the west by the Heimanswetering. Alphen is bisected by the Oude Rijn. The city is located in the relatively little built-up peat meadow area Groene Hart between Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden, characterized by meadows, dikes, ditches, rivers and lakes. The built-up area consists of an urban area with the center (Hoge and Lage Zijde), residential areas, shopping centers, the station area, the Park Zegersloot (including polder Oudshoorn), business parks, industrial ports, marinas and container transhipment.

There are seven bridges over the Oude Rijn: the Zwammerdam Bridge, Crossing Bridge, Swaenswijk Bridge, Alphense Bridge, Queen Juliana Bridge, Albert Schweitzer Bridge and the Queen Maximabrug, which opened in 2016, in the far west of the city. One is for pedestrians and cyclists and one for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and emergency services. A public discussion is started to make the Juliana Bridge free of trucks. The other bridges are the 's Molenaar bridge over the Heimanswetering, the Zeger bridge over the Aarkanaal, the Rijnhaven bridge, the Lift bridge Gouwesluis over the Gouwe and the Oranje Nassau bridge over the Aarkanaal.

Art and culture
Alphen aan den Rijn (municipality) has 74 national monuments and a number of war monuments.

Oudshoornse kerk: A reformed church on the banks of the Oude Rijn, founded in 1665 by Cornelis de Vlaming
Remonstrant Church: This used to be a synagogue.
Korenmolen de Eendracht: This 11-meter-wide tower mill dates from 1752 and was originally built at the north end of the Gouw in Oostzaandam. The mill was transferred to Alphen aan den Rijn in 1898 to replace another mill. The mill was in commercial service until 1955, and is open to the public every Saturday.
Former Town Hall: The music school is currently located in this building on the Burgemeester Visserpark. Villa Sonnehoeck from 1920, which is a municipal monument, is located on the same park.
City Hall: In January 2003 a new city hall was opened, which is of a revolutionary design, following the trends of the time, with a lot of openness and glass. Architect: Erick van Egeraat associated architects, Rotterdam.
Catholic Saint Boniface Church: neo-Gothic church from 1884 designed by Evert Margry.
Burial chapel of the De Smeth family: in this burial chapel many members of the noble De Smeth family were interred in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. This one is behind the Advent Church.
Advent Church: this was the first Boniface church, but destroyed during the iconoclasm and rebuilt as a Protestant church. The church was built to a design by architect W.Ch. Kuijper in the 1920s - 1922. The church was built on the site of the old village church that burned down on April 7, 1916. In 1962 a carillon of 45 bells was placed in the 40 meter high tower; the church's bells weigh 1162 and 864 kilos respectively. The organ is a unique Steinmeyer organ that was restored and expanded in 1982.
Huize Overpost: This mansion was built in 1722 on the Wilhelminalaan and was inhabited by, among others, doctor Post and Antoni Lemzon Pijnacker, who was mayor of Alphen aan den Rijn from 1834 to 1849. Huize Overpost later housed a wholesaler in freshwater fish and a municipal stamp room where unemployed people had to get a stamp. The building was restored after WWII. A law firm is currently located there.
Monument de Ridderhof: this memorial is placed in commemoration of the shooting in Alphen aan den Rijn on April 9, 2011. It concerns a tree and a bench, bearing the names of the victims of the shooting drama.