Dordrecht is with 119,342 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) the fifth municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. Dordrecht is part of the metropolitan agglomeration Drechtsteden, which has about 280,000 inhabitants. The city is located where the Merwede splits into the North and the Oude Maas. The municipality of Dordrecht encompasses the entire Eiland van Dordrecht. The residents of Dordrecht often call their city Dordt. Dordrecht has four police stations, two fire stations, a hospital (Albert Schweitzer Hospital) and a prison (Dordrecht Prison).

Dordrecht was first mentioned in a text from the twelfth century, when the city was still referred to as Thuredrech, and was granted city rights in 1220. In the Middle Ages the city developed as an important trading city and warehouse and was one of the six major cities in Holland. Later the importance of the city declined, but the city center still reminds of this rich past.



The city of Dordrecht originated on the river Thure in the middle of peat bogs. The Thure was a tributary of the river Dubbel and ran approximately at the height of the current Bagijnhof. The original name of Dordrecht is Thuredrith. This means "ford in the river Thure". Thuredrith would change over time in Dordrecht, is one of several name statements. The oldest mention of the city dates from around 1120. About that year, in part of the Annals van Egmond mention was made of the murder of Count Dirk IV in 1049 'near Dordrecht' (apud Thuredrech).

The Dutch count Willem I confirmed the city rights of Dordrecht in 1220. After Geertruidenberg (1213), Dordrecht is the second city that is known to have been given liberties by the Dutch count. However, the question is whether the city rights of Geertruidenberg were as complete as those of Dordrecht. After all, it was only about obtaining market rights, but did not include the right to jurisdiction. It cannot be ruled out that other Dutch towns previously also received city rights (not all charters have been preserved as original or as copies). However, on the basis of its old papers, Dordrecht has long claimed to be the oldest city in Holland. Due to its strategic location and the acquisition of staple rights in 1299, the city developed into an important depot. Dordrecht mainly traded wine, wood and grain. Around 1400 the city had over 8000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in Holland.

However, this only applies to the States of Holland (approximately North and South Holland). Of the cities in the current Netherlands, there are more that are older, including Nijmegen (around the year 100 market rights), Maastricht (inhabited continuously for two thousand years) and Utrecht (1122). See List of Dutch places with city rights.

In 1421 Dordrecht came to lie on an island as a result of the St. Elisabeth flood, in which large parts of the hinterland (Grote Waard) drowned for good.

In 1572 the First Free States Assembly was convened in Dordrecht. Representatives of all Dutch cities recognized Stadtholder William I, Prince of Orange, and supported the revolt against the Spaniards. In 1618-1619 in Dordrecht, stronghold of the Reformation, the Synod of Dordrecht took place, where the Remonstrants stood against the counter-protesters and where the decision was made to produce the Bible translation that would produce the Statenbijbel in 1637, the first official translation into the Dutch language .

During the First Stadtholderless Period (1650-1672) Johan de Witt, son of mr. Jacob de Witt, was put forward as council pensionary. Under his leadership, peace was made with England in 1654, including the Act of Seclusion. This deed was to prevent the son of Willem II from becoming stadtholder. However, on August 20, 1672, Johan and his brother Cornelis de Witt were lynched in The Hague. William III, suspected of the plot, became stadtholder that same year.

Dordrecht pursued a sharply anti-stadtholder course. On July 26, 1783 the drill society "De Vrijheid" was founded. The Patriots wanted to reclaim the old freedom from the House of Orange. After all, the Netherlands had been a republic for more than two hundred years, succession had no place in that. Several cities soon followed. Stadtholder Willem V fled from Holland. On September 18, 1787, however, Dordrecht capitulated to the troops of the Prussian King Frederik Willem, William V's brother-in-law. The Orange Restoration was launched with vigor and the democratic movement wiped out. William V was restored to his position. In 1815 his son Willem I, formerly Willem VI, assumed the title of King of the Netherlands.

Within Holland, Dordrecht was overshadowed by Rotterdam from the 18th century.

Over the centuries, Dordrecht has occupied a key position in the defense of Holland, until well into the 20th century Dordrecht was also a garrison town. Pontonniers were stationed in the Benthien barracks at Buiten Walevest along the Oude Maas. During the mobilization of August 1939, infantrymen and artillerymen were also sent to Dordrecht to defend the island.

In May 1940, Lieutenant Colonel Josephus Adrianus Mussert, a brother of NSB leader Anton Mussert, led the defense of Dordrecht against the German army. After the Dutch army gave up the fight against the Germans, Jo Mussert was arrested and shot, as a result of which he died a few hours later. In the winter of 1944-1945, Dordrecht and the surrounding area became the center of the battle in the Second World War. The boundary between liberated and occupied territory was then at the Hollandsch Diep.


In 1970, the municipality of Dubbeldam (then about 10,000 inhabitants) and the southern part of the municipality of Sliedrecht were added to the municipality of Dordrecht, so that the municipality covered the entire Eiland van Dordrecht.



In 1774 the Dordrecht Drawing Society Pictura was founded. This society is a continuation of the 'Guild of Sint Lucas op der Vijf Neringen' that was founded in 1736 by the painter Aart Schouman. In the Middle Ages all painters from the city were united here. Pictura has been located in an old building on the Voorstraat for years and is an art institution with members from Dordrecht and the region as well as beyond.

Just past Pictura, the Muntpoort provides access to the former Mint of Holland, where besides the Toonkunstschool, Loge La Flamboyante is also located, the oldest of the two lodges for Freemasonry in Dordrecht. La Flamboyante was founded in 1811. Much younger is Loge 'De Schakel' from 1968.

Koninklijke Rederykerskamer Inter Amicos is the oldest amateur theater company from Dordrecht. This association was founded in 1896 and received the designation 'Koninklijke' in 1947. Inter Amicos has its own theater where rehearsals and performances take place.

There are several museums, galleries, numerous music associations and orchestras, a children's theater, puppet theater and a number of discos. The Energiehuis is a multifunctional cultural center, including a theater and a pop stage.

Dordrecht also has several war memorials.

Places of interest in Dordrecht are in the first place the river quay at the Groothoofdspoort, further the Grote Kerk with its unfinished tower and - unusual in Holland - its stone vaulting. The inland ports, one of which is covered by the town hall and the Scheffersplein, are also an attraction. The city has about 900 national monuments, more than 650 municipal monuments and two protected cityscapes: Rijksbeschermd face 19th-century Schil Dordrecht and Rijksbermd face Dordrecht. Historical merchant houses line the old harbors. The approximately fifty houses with a Dordrecht façade, a unique façade type that was developed in the 16th century as a masterpiece of the bricklayers' guild, are remarkable. The Hof is an old Augustinian monastery with an interesting history, for example, the First Free States Meeting in 1572. The museum that is located there is part of the Dordrechts Museum.

The Statenplein, designed in the twentieth century, is the commercial center of the city. On the nearby Scheffersplein there is a statue of Ary Scheffer, the painter from Dordrecht, and on the Visbrug a statue of the brothers Johan and Cornelis de Witt. The last remaining mill in Dordrecht is on the Noordendijk: Molen Kyck over den Dyck. Dordrecht also has a few courtyards: among others the Regentenhof and Lenghenhof 1755), the Arend Maartenshof (1625), the Van Slingelandthof (1542), and the Clara and Mariahof (1880). Over the centuries, various sculptures and other works of art have been placed in the city.

Fish used to be sold in the fish hall (national monument) on the Vismarkt, which was supplied from the adjacent water of the Knolhaven, including sturgeon and salmon from the then unpolluted rivers.



The following museums are located in Dordrecht:

Dordrechts Museum, popularly called the Paintings Museum
Huis Van Gijn, museum about Simon van Gijn and part of the Dordrechts Museum
Het Hof, part of the Dordrechts Museum
The Dordts Patrician House
Landscape Science Museum
The collection from the former Lips Slotenmuseum has been transferred on loan to the Regional Archives
Museum 1940-1945, also known as the Resistance Museum
National Education Museum
Inland shipping museum in pusher René Siegfried
Carel Wüst car museum
Letterpress Museum Dordrecht


Events and festivals

Dordrecht has the following events:
Dordt in Stoom: this event attracts approximately a quarter of a million visitors. Dordt in Stoom is organized every two years in the historic harbors of Dordrecht.
Big Rivers Festival: the biggest party in Dordrecht. Every year, this event, which is organized in the 2nd weekend of July, attracts approximately 140,000 visitors.
Book market: the Dordrecht book market attracts nearly a hundred thousand visitors every year on the first Sunday in July.
Dordrecht Bach Festival: biennial festival at various locations in the city center of Dordrecht.
Dordrecht Christmas Market: event held in the city center of Dordrecht, which was visited in December 2013 by around 435,000 visitors.
Wantive Festival: Since 1995, the Popprojects Foundation has been organizing the Wantijpark every year in the second weekend of June, on behalf of the Municipality of Dordrecht. The festival consists of three parts: Wantijpop (Saturday), Rainbowpark (Sunday) and the Wantijfestival Clubnights (pre- & after parties). Since 2012, this festival has only taken place on Saturdays.

Kunstrondje Dordt: every month on the first Sunday. 48 shops in the historic city center of Dordrecht with, among other things, antiques, curios, books have been opened.
Dwars Door Dordt run of 10 kilometers: held annually in April, usually one week before the Rotterdam marathon. In 2005 the 58th edition of Dwars Door Dordt attracted more than 1400 participants.
Dance tour, also known as Boulevard of Dance. In 2012, this festival drew more than 50,000 music lovers to the Spuiboulevard.
Around From Dordrecht. Since 2013, organizes an annual four-day cycling tour with distances of 30, 50 and 80 km in the first week of June.
Cello festival: was held for the first time in the historic Hofkwartier of Dordrecht on the Ascension weekend of 1987.
Summer fair
Holiday Children's parties: Since the beginning of the 20th century, the V.K.F. in the summer months activities for the youth.
Dordt Monumenteel: is held every year on the same weekend as the Heritage Days. The monuments are central on Saturday and Sunday. This event attracts approximately 100,000 visitors annually.
et-SKA-tera: an annual skate festival organized by Mandy van der Rest
Wantij concerts: every Monday evening in July and August in the Wantijpark.
In 2012 Dordrecht won the title 'Event City of the Year', in that year Dordrecht also won the City Marketing Trophy. Dordrecht was also named 'Event City of the Year' in 2019.



Topography and landscape
The city of Dordrecht is located in the south of South Holland on the Eiland van Dordrecht, an area with an area of ​​approximately 9,000 ha that was created in its current form by the Saint Elisabeth flood in 1421. The area has fallen since the annexation of the former municipality of Dubbeldam in 1970 entirely within the boundaries of the municipality, which has a total area of ​​99.45 km².

Three rivers converge near Dordrecht: the Beneden-Merwede, the North and the Oude Maas. This three-river point is the busiest waterway junction in Europe. The Eiland van Dordrecht is surrounded by several large waterways: in addition to the Beneden-Merwede and the Oude Maas, these are the Nieuwe Merwede, Hollands Diep and Dordtsche Kil.

The water in Dordrecht is generally slightly below NAP, for example −1.50 meters. The highest natural point on the Eiland van Dordrecht is the Kop van de Oude Wiel with a height of 2.60 meters above sea level.



To the east of the city is the Sliedrechtse Biesbosch, south the Dordtse Biesbosch. These areas, which are still located on the Eiland van Dordrecht, together form the Hollandse Biesbosch, one nature and recreation area. The rest of the De Biesbosch National Park is accessible via the ferry between the Kop van het Land and Werkendam. In the Hollandse Biesbosch is the Biesbosch Center Dordrecht of Nature and Recreation Board De Hollandse Biesbosch.