Dokkum, Netherlands


Dokkum is a town in the municipality of Noardeast-Fryslân (Northeast Friesland in Dutch), in the Dutch province of Friesland. In 2020 the place had 12,675 inhabitants.

Dokkum is located south of the Wadden Sea and (south) west of the Lauwersmeer between Damwoude (Damwâld) and Aalsum, located on the border between the Kleistreek and the Friese Wouden. The city center is located around the place where the Dokkumer Ee and the Dokkumergrootdiep meet.

The place is one of the Frisian eleven cities and has a regional service function for Northeast Friesland. Dokkum is the fifth shopping city in Friesland (56,688 m2 sales floor space). The Frisian dialect Noordhoeks is spoken around Dokkum. Since 2016, Dokkum has been connected to a renewed road network towards Leeuwarden, Drachten and Groningen thanks to the Central Axis.



Dokkum is internationally known because in 754 Boniface was murdered in the vicinity of Dokkum.

There are several explanations about the origin of the name Dokkum. Some think of a combination and contraction of the Frisian husband's name 'Docko', which would have owned a yard or 'heim / hiem' here. Others associate Dokkum with 'Tockingen', which is a 'settlement on a draft or stream'. Spellings for the place name included 'Dockinga' and 'Dockynchirica'. Since the Middle Ages, Dokkum has been a monastery that housed monks of the Norbertine order from the 13th century. In 1214 Olivier van Keulen preached the crusade in Dokkum, in which Dokkumers also participated. This history is remembered by means of a crescent moon on the Dokkum coat of arms.

In 1298, after Stavoren, Harlingen and IJlst, Dokkum was granted city rights as the fourth city in Friesland.

In the Great Frisian War, the Allied army led by Focko Ukena attacked Dokkum (1418). After a few skirmishes with the Schieringer defenders, they surrendered and the city was overpowered. Dokkum is burned and the city defused militarily.

In the Eighty Years' War against Spain, Dokkum was an important pawn in the battle. In 1572 the city was in the hands of the Geuzen for several hours. Dokkum was severely punished for this with the Walloon Fury in Dokkum. After 1579, when Dokkum joined the Union of Utrecht, an era of peace began. The Roman monastery and monastery church were demolished in 1589, the tower of the church continued to determine the townscape until 1832.

In earlier years the city was in open connection with the sea, the Dokkumergrootdiep. In 1597 the Frisian Admiralty settled in Dokkum. From here, all kinds of matters for the security of trade and warfare with Spain were arranged at sea. Dokkum was of great strategic importance, which is also evident from the construction of the city walls in the years 1581-1582.


Dokkum in earlier times

Yet the Admiralty did not stay long in Dokkum. Due to the silting up of the shipping routes, she moved the office to Harlingen in 1644. In 1729 the open connection with the Lauwerszee was finally closed by the construction of the Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen. This also replaced the old 16th-century sea lock under the Zijl. Dokkum increasingly developed into a country-oriented city.

Dokkum went bankrupt due to the construction of the Stroobossertrekvaart in the years 1654 - 1656. Dokkum was and is known in the local tradition as "Arm Dokkum".

The municipality remained within the boundaries of the strongholds until 1925, after which parts of East and West Dongeradeel and Dantumadeel were added to the municipality of Dokkum.

Until 1984 Dokkum was also an independent municipality. By merging with the municipalities of West- and Oostdongeradeel, the municipality of Dongeradeel was created, of which Dokkum became the main town.

South of Dokkum is a well, which is associated by tradition with (the death of) the Anglo-Saxon missionary Boniface in 754 and has therefore become a Catholic pilgrimage site.

Fedde Sonnema started his distillery and liqueur distillery in Dokkum, still known from Sonnema Berenburg. The old factory is still in Dokkum. The square in front of the former factory is named after Sonnema Sonnemapleintje. The berenburg is now fired in Bolsward.

In the nineteenth century there was an increasing lack of space in Dokkum. This was due to the ramparts, which hindered growth to the outside, because it was not allowed to build within the firing range of the cannons on the bastions. All new construction was crammed into the city center, which led to the loss of many old historic buildings. Fortunately, the city center of Dokkum - one of the first places in the Netherlands - was declared a protected cityscape in 1974, making it one of the protected city and village views in Friesland.

In the past, a train stopped in Dokkum, the Dokkumer classroom. Passenger service was discontinued before the war, freight transport was not until the mid-1970s, but many Dokkumer still know the Dokkumer room. There was a pub in Dokkum with the name "Dokkumer lokaaltje", and every Dokkumer knows the well-known song of the train.

On November 18, 2017, the national arrival of Sinterklaas took place in Dokkum.

In 2019, the municipality of Dongeradeel, together with the municipalities of Ferwerderadiel and Kollumerland ca, merged into the municipality of Noardeast-Fryslân.