Culemborg, Netherlands


Culemborg (formerly and locally still called Kuilenburg or Kuylenburgh) is a town and municipality in the Neder-Betuwe, in the Dutch province of Gelderland. The municipality has 29,020 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) and has an area of 31.23 km² (of which 1.49 km² is water). The hamlet of Goilberdingen is located within the municipal boundaries.



The oldest mention of Culemborg dates from 1281: the place was then called Culenburgh. Over the years, various variants have been used: Kulenborch (1305), Culenborgh (1353), Colemborch (1363), Culemborch (1472). The first part of the name refers to a hole, or a pool of water that was created during a dike breach (comparable to a wheel or gully). The second part refers to the castle that was built around 1270 near the pit. The name Culemborg therefore means' castle at the pit.



Middle Ages

Culemborg was originally a trading village, located on the ridge of the river Meer and the southern bank of the Lek. To the west of it, the lord of Bosinchem (Beusichem) built a small castle shortly before 1270. In the 13th century, Jan II, who called himself Lord of Culemborg, built Castle Culemborg on the north side of the town. Only the foundations of this castle remain. Just south of the town was Caetshage Castle.

On "Sente Nycolausdach" in 1318, the burgesses of the now fortified settlement of their lord, Jan van Bosinchem, received city rights, including free tolls on the annual fair and the right of asylum. Culemborg became a Free City, but this does not mean that everyone could settle freely. The city had its own jurisdiction. Anyone who had something to their credit had to appear before bailiff and aldermen and did not escape due punishment. However, he was given the opportunity to defend himself. As long as he stayed in Culemborg, his creditor was not allowed into the city. "Going to Kuilenburg" later came to mean "going bankrupt".

In the 14th century, a city wall and moat were built to keep irregular gangs and enemy troops out of the city. Twice the city was expanded beyond the existing walls. Around 1370 on the north side with a skippers' quarter, the so-called Havendijk and twenty years later on the south side where the village Lanxmeer was added under the names Nieuwstad / Nieuwpoort. This created a kind of "tri-city". The Havendijk and the Nieuwstad were also walled.

The city owes a lot to the last descendant of the Van Culemborg family. Lady Elisabeth founded the Elisabeth hospital, a courtyard with houses for old men and women, and advanced the money for the construction of the Town Hall and the tower of the St. John's Church. The Elisabeth Orphanage was built from her inheritance. This orphanage now serves as a museum and library.


New time

Shortly before Elisabeth's death in 1555, Emperor Charles V elevated the manor to a county. Because Elisabeth died childless, Floris van Pallandt, a grandson of her eldest sister Anna, inherited the county. Under the influence of his Lutheran wife, Floris soon turned to Protestantism. Together with William of Orange and Count William IV van den Bergh, he played an important role in the revolt against Spanish rule. In 1566 Floris was the first in the Netherlands to have a Calvinist service, while hedges were still preached elsewhere. That happened in the wash house of the castle. In this way he ensured that the new doctrine in Culemborg was for the first time openly and officially proclaimed in the Netherlands. In revenge, the Duke of Alva had his castle in Brussels razed to the ground when the count was in Germany, because he had to come before the blood council. Floris had given shelter in his Castle in Brussels to the Nobles of the Covenant who offered supplication to Margaret of Parma and were received there as Geuzen.

From 1639 to 1714 the county came to the family Waldeck-Eisenberg and then under the princes of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The German gentlemen regarded Culemborg as a welcome cash cow. In 1650, opposition to a taxation by Count Van Waldeck-Pyrmont led to 'the Culemborg women's revolt' led by the widow Luyt Wortel. In the period 1672-1674 (disaster year), the French largely destroyed the castle, plundered the library and robbed part of the archive. In the years after 1735 the castle was finally demolished. The last part, the White Tower, was demolished in 1812. For lack of money, Saxe-Hildburghausen sold Culemborg with all its high rights and domains for almost one million guilders to the States of the Quarter of Nijmegen. These donated the county to Prince William IV in 1748 when he was elevated to the status of stadtholder. In 1795 the city was occupied by the French. Three years later, after almost five centuries, the independence of the state came to an end and it was incorporated into the Batavian Republic.

After the French period, the city was incorporated into the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Oranje-Nassau family was the last burial house reigning in Culemborg. That is why the king still holds the secondary title of Count of Culemborg.


Modern time

Culemborg was equally world famous when the Kuilenburgse railway bridge was put into use in 1868; the span of approximately 154 meters was the longest in the world at the time. To cross the Lek with the high bridge, a railway embankment had to be constructed; Culemborg Station came to lie at the bottom of the slope and therefore a long way outside the city. In the second half of the 19th century, the construction of the Utrecht - Boxtel railway line (the now replaced railway bridge from 1868) was an important stimulus for the industrial development of Culemborg. The cigar and furniture industry in particular emerged strongly at that time.

The fireworks disaster in Culemborg took place on February 14, 1991. A storage room with fireworks from the company MS Fireworks on the Diedingijk exploded. 2 people were killed (the owner's daughter and his son-in-law), 20 injured and there was extensive material damage in the area.

From the 10s of the 21st century, Culemborg on the west side of the city was expanded with the new residential district of Paris.


The Plantation

The Plantage is the city park of Culemborg. It was designed in 1850 by the landscaper Louis Paul Zocher and laid out in the English landscape style. The original design is still clearly visible because modifications have been limited. The Plantage is a municipal monument. Until about 1950 there was a bandstand in the Plantage that was demolished for unclear reasons at the time. It was rebuilt in 2009/2010 and festively opened on May 5, 2010.



During the turn of the year from 2009 to 2010, disturbances took place in the Culemborg district of Terweijde. The tensions between Moroccan and Moluccan youth that had existed for several months escalated at the aforementioned turn of the year. An emergency ordinance was then in force in Terweijde for a few weeks. An emergency order had been issued for all access roads to Culemborg. Anyone who wanted to enter Culemborg could be preventively searched by the police. The deployment of the Mobile Unit (ME) cost the local police force 1.8 million euros.



Castle garden and museum De Groene Schuur.
Vishal, Havendijk 6
Elisabeth Orphanage
Great or St. Barbara Church (Protestant)
Saint Barbara's Church (Catholic)
Parish of the H.H. Barbara and Antonius (Old Catholic)
Culemborg town hall
Ferryway, marina and ferry
Lanxmeer, Eco-residential area
Church of the Philadelphian Church
Jan van Riebeeckhuis, the birthplace of Jan van Riebeeck
Werk aan het Spoel, part of the New Dutch Waterline
Fort Everdingen, part of the New Dutch Waterline