Elburg, Netherlands


Elburg is a Hanseatic city in the Netherlands. It is located on the Veluwemeer and the Drontermeer in the province of Gelderland, and is the capital of the municipality of Elburg. The city of Elburg is best known for its medieval fortress with an almost completely straight street plan. In 2020 the town of Elburg had 12,055 inhabitants. The former hamlet of Oostendorp has since grown into a new housing estate in Elburg.



Elburg was once a fishing and trading village that looked out directly on the Zuiderzee and consisted of a ribbon development around the current Ellestraat and its extension. Elburg and her freedom were part of the old Doornspijk. A charter of Count Floris V of Holland dated 27 March 1291 is the oldest known written source in which Elburg as a city is first mentioned.


City law and privileges

It is assumed that Elburg received city rights between 1220 and 1271, presumably from Count Otto II of Gelre and possibly in 1233. On September 5, 1310, these city rights were declared lapsed on the day of Speyer because Otto was not authorized to grant city rights and no royal permission. had asked. On December 4, 1312, the old city rights were reconfirmed and extended by Reinald I with approval. Elburg was given the same rights as Doesburg. In 1341, Duke Reinoldt of Gelre gave the city of Elburg all the freedom that the city of Zutphen has. In 1488 the city was ordered by Stadholder Adolf of Nassau to supply soldiers for Maximilian's army under threat of loss of privileges.


Old town before 1392

The old Elburg was an elongated residence on a long street (the 'Oude Straat') from Oude Bleek in the north to past the 'Oude Kerk' to the south. The population increased on this higher coastal strip in the thirteenth century, causing fishermen, craftsmen and merchants to settle there. This gave the area urban characteristics that gave it city rights. No document has survived, but it must have been granted between 1220 and 1271 and possibly on July 3, 1233 by Count Otto II. A reconstruction on the basis of a map by Jacob van Deventer from about 1560 shows that the old city of Elburg was located on both sides of the Oude Straat from the Goorsluis to the Oude Bleek. The part of the Oude Straat, which is now called Ellestraat, with the buildings on both sides, together with the newly constructed city, was included within the enclosure. The Oude Straat thus became a dead end road against the city wall.


Relocation of the city

On October 2, 1392, Willem van J├╝lich, then Duke of Guelders, gave the order to relocate the city of Elburg and to expand its freedom. To this end, he gave his steward Arent thoe Boecop the following order: "We want to have our statues sent to us in another city." As far as is known, there is no specific or compelling reason for the relocation of the city, and the count's power-political motives, as was the case with many medieval new cities, are not evident for the new construction of Elburg. The motive for the construction of the new city of Elburg was Thoe Boecop making a profit. Many publications assume that the reason for the new construction of Elburg would be the threat or destruction by the Zuiderzee. However, no evidence has been found for this.

This plan could be implemented thanks to the prosperity that Elburg enjoyed as a Hanseatic city at that time. Arent thoe Boecop had, in four years (1392-1396), a new city built with an almost rectangular plan, in which the streets were laid out according to a plan, using part of the buildings in the old city. The original buildings around Olde Street, the later Ellestraat, where the Heilige Geestgasthuis stood, was partly included in this plan.

After the construction of the new city, the church building still stood on the old site outside the new city walls. Only in 1397 did the bishop give his approval to rebuild the current Grote or Sint-Nicolaaskerk within the new town. At that time there was still a place in the corner available, so Elburg is one of the few old towns where the church is not centrally located but on the edge. The construction of this originally Roman Catholic church, which became a Protestant church after the reform of the late 16th century, was rather hasty, because after 50 years the church had to be renovated. The pointed spire that once stood on top of the church burned down completely after a lightning strike in 1693, so that now only the angular superstructure is visible and climbable.



Elburg was not only moved at the end of the 14th century, but it was also turned into a fortress with moats, walls and a number of defensive towers. The street pattern of Elburg largely dates from the 14th century. Due to developments in warfare, a second defensive wall and moat was dug outside the former moat at the end of the 16th century. The Vischpoort near the harbor was originally built as a closed defense structure under the name Visscherstoren, but was converted in 1592 into the current open gate tower. Gate doors were reinstalled in 1992.


Historical buildings

Former synagogue
Jufferenstraat 5 has a neoclassical brick gate with a Hebrew text from Psalm 55; 15, the former synagogue inaugurated by the Jewish community in 1855. It was established in the converted sixteenth-century, basement residence of Count Hendrik van den Bergh. The building, which was no longer used as a place of worship after World War II, is now a museum under the name Sjoel Elburg that commemorates the Jewish community of the city and the Netherlands.

The Munthuis van Elburg is located in the Vischpoortstraat. The oldest working rope track in the Netherlands is located along the city wall near the harbor. The Arent Thoe Boecophuis, built in Gothic style, is located in Schapesteeg. The steward had built this building for his client, the duke of Guelders, who in turn donated it to the steward. His children sold it in 1401 to the city of Elburg. The town hall of Elburg was located there from 1401 to 1954. In the Zuiderwalstraat, behind a green wooden door, is the monastery garden of the former Agnieten monastery dating from the 15th century. After 1954, the town hall was located here and it now houses the Museum Elburg. The former refectory of the monastery still serves as a wedding hall.

In the 19th century, much of the city walls and towers were demolished to make room for new housing for the growing population. Partly because Elburg does not have a train connection and the surrounding area was traditionally relatively poor, growth in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century was limited. From 1908, the Zuiderzeetramweg did call at this place and this was the depot of this steam tram line, which was discontinued in 1931. There was talk of new construction, but it was built far outside the historic city center. As a result, the city canal, the Vischpoort (which now houses the Fisheries Museum), the casemates, the ramparts and part of the city wall have still remained intact. The fact that Elburg is known as a fortified city in addition to being a Hanseatic city is an important reason for tourists to visit the city.

De Tijd is located in the Oostendorp district, a windmill that is regularly in operation on Saturdays. The National Organ Museum is located in the Arent thoe Boecophuis.

Fishing port
The former Zuiderzee town of Elburg has a small fishing port with a harbor basin in the vicinity of the Vischpoort. Due to the closure of the Zuiderzee and later the reclamation, Elburg lost the fishing industry in the second half of the last century. The former pier (Kop van 't Ende) can still be seen in Flevoland. Until recently, the Balk botter yard, founded around 1787, was located on the harbor basin. In 2008, the boatyard of the botter foundation was built on the site, where historic botters are built, restored and maintained. The historic botter fleet has a permanent berth in the old harbor basin, for recreational craft there are many berths on the old access canal.

Cobblestone pavements
Elburg has characteristic cobblestone pavements that are protected by Heritage Conservation. These sidewalks in front of some old houses are made of white pebbles, with inlaid figures of black pebbles. They are said to have been laid from erratic stones found on the Woldberg. Before the 18th century it must have been used to build pavements of such cobbles. A kind of masons' folk art developed in Elburg in which all kinds of symbols and decorative motifs were used: eight-pointed stars, diamonds, flower shapes, wheel shapes, etc.And in the past also animals. An old mention of these field stones is from 1843 It is known that Elburg began to pave its streets in 1615. Wout Ostendorf distinguishes several signs and figures with sometimes symbolic meanings, which cannot (yet) be traced. The symbol now usually indicates the nature of the business that is carried out in the plot behind it. Like a fish at a fish shop.