Enschede, Netherlands


Enschede (Low Saxon: Eanske) is a city and municipality in Twente, in the east of the Dutch province of Overijssel. In addition to the city of Enschede, the municipality of Enschede includes the villages of Lonneker, Boekelo, Usselo, Glanerbrug and the hamlet of Twekkelo, all of which fall under the city of Enschede for the postcodes. The municipality has 158,918 inhabitants (August 1, 2020, source: Statistics Netherlands) with approximately 160 nationalities. Enschede is the largest city in Overijssel and the fourteenth municipality in the Netherlands by population.

The original municipality of Enschede had a very planned hexagonal shape from 1818 (one of the most planned in the Netherlands) and was completely surrounded by the municipality of Lonneker. The boundary was marked in 1826 by 6 numbered stone posts made of Bentheim sandstone. Parts of Lonneker were annexed in 1884. In 1934 the rest of the municipality of Lonneker was annexed.

The municipality of Enschede works together in the Twente Region and has been a participant from the very beginning in the EUREGIO, the first regional cross-border partnership in Europe.



The name 'Enschede' is, according to the most common explanation, a corruption of 'An die Schede' (Anneschethe, 1119). The Old Saxon scethia meant 'division' or 'border', which in this case probably referred to a swampy border area.



Middle Ages

Enschede originated in the early Middle Ages as an agricultural settlement: the center of a series of neighborhoods around a number of ash trees. In addition to the agricultural land, the neighborhoods also included common land, not in the possession of a single owner. In the early Middle Ages five separate 'marks' can be distinguished: the Esmarke (Enschedermarke or Grote Boermarke), the Lonneker marke, the Usseler marke, the Twekkeler marke and the Driener marke. Together they formed the director of Enschede. In the Middle Ages, farmers in the Marches generally did not own the land they cultivate. Landowners include the bishop of Utrecht, Werden monastery, lords of Ottenstein. Located on the southern flank of a lateral moraine on the route from Deventer to Münster and Osnabrück, the village developed steadily. Enschede was granted city rights around 1300, which were confirmed in 1325 by the Utrecht bishop Jan van Diest. The city's oldest known seal features the image of the parish saint, Saint James the Greater. This seal was in use until the Münster war (1666). The city was surrounded by an oval canal belt in the 14th century and from about 1400 by a double canal belt. An earthen wall with a stockade was then constructed between these canals.

When Enschede was granted city rights in 1325, the bishop of Utrecht also granted the right to fortify the settlement. Before 1325, however, Enschede was already surrounded by a moat, the so-called Stadsgraven. The two bridges over that canal, the Veldbrug (in the current Marktstraat) and the Esbrug (in the Langestraat, near the Haverstraatpassage) were already reinforced by gates before 1300: the Veldpoort and the Espoort. Furthermore, within the moat, to the east of the church, was the Esmarke doom court or main court. The court itself was also surrounded by a wide moat, the Borggraven, which was connected to the Stadsgraven.

In 1465 the bishop ordered the citizens of Enschede to build a wooden fence around the city. The stockade was built on a wall that was located between the old city graves and a new outer moat. To compensate the city, the bishop donated a piece of wild land outside the Veldpoort, the so-called Stadsmaten or Stadsweide. Some thirty years later, a stronghold was established on the north side of the city.


Sixteenth Century to the Industrial Revolution

In 1518 the city was captured from the bishop by the Geldersen. They razed the fortifications to the ground. However, the constant outbreaks of episcopal gangs from Oldenzaal forced Enschede to be strengthened again. In 1523 the fortress was rebuilt and the so-called Blokhuis was established on the Markt.

When Prince Maurice appeared at the gates on October 18, 1597 during the capture of the city, the city surrendered without a fight. The fortress and walls of Enschede were poorly cared for at that time and the states of Overijssel had no longer planned to invest in the dilapidated city walls. Although Maurits confirmed the old rights of Enschede, he ordered the dismantling of the fortress. The rampart was used to 'throw' the outer canal. The inner moat remained, albeit narrowed, as did the two gates. Enschede's military role was over by filling in the last stretch of outer canal in 1600.


Industrial Revolution and the Second World War

The city remained relatively insignificant until the 18th century, when the textile industry developed. After Belgium's independence in 1830, the textile industry in Twente was strongly stimulated by the government. The third city fire in 1862 (the first was in 1517, the second in 1750 and the then village of Enschede had already been burned down in 1125 and 1225), in which almost the entire city was destroyed, caused this development to accelerate.


Enschede grew into the most important center of textile production in the Netherlands. The population of the textile city increased fivefold between 1870 and 1900. Textile families such as Van Heek, Ter Kuile, Jannink, Blijdenstein, Tattersall & Holdsworth and Menko formed a powerful oligarchy that left a clear mark on urban society. The textile has left many traces, including in the form of very modern residential areas for that time. An important example of this is Crimea (1861), the first district built for workers, which was neglected around 1900 and then demolished around 1935. The garden village Pathmos (1924) and the district de Laares (1930) and a number of city parks are also examples of urban developments that have been established by or on the initiative of textile manufacturers.

In 1891, the socially committed priest and parish vicar Alfons Ariëns in Enschede initiated the development of the Catholic labor movement in the eastern Netherlands. The socialist workers' movement was the driving force behind a series of industrial disputes in the textile industry, directed against what was perceived as social abuses. The labor movements had to compete against the Enschede Manufacturers Association (also active in the rest of Twente and in the Achterhoek).

During the Second World War, Enschede was hit by bombardments dozens of times. On October 10, 1943 and February 22, 1944, it was bombed on a large scale by allied airmen who believed they saw a city in Germany. Incidentally, Enschede was a positive exception in the Netherlands: thanks to, among others, the Jewish industrialist Sigmund Menko and the Protestant pastor Leendert Overduin, dozens of Jews were able to go into hiding in time, as a result of which more than half of the Jewish inhabitants survived the war. Nationally this was a quarter.


Recent History

In the sixties of the 20th century, the textile industry was completely lost, at the cost of approximately 30,000 jobs. Most of the large factory complexes were demolished in the 1970s and 1980s, some were renovated and given new uses. For example, homes were built in the former factories of Jannink and Van Heek. In addition, part of the Jannink complex was converted into a museum. Enschede developed into a service city. On September 14, 1964, the new Technische Hogeschool Twente (later University of Twente) opened its doors. Higher professional education in Twente is concentrated in Enschede with Saxion and ARTEZ Institute of the Arts. A number of important healthcare institutions are also located there, including the Medisch Spectrum Twente (MST) and rehabilitation center Het Roessingh. The largest employers in Enschede are the aforementioned University of Twente and Medisch Spectrum Twente, each employing about 3000 people, Apollo Vredestein, Grolsch and Menzis are the largest private employers with 1500, 750 and 750 employees respectively. The city center was revitalized from the 1980s by the construction of a car-free city yard and the filling in of vacant industrial areas with homes, shopping centers and offices.

On May 13, 2000, a major fireworks disaster took place, in which the residential area of ​​Roombeek was destroyed. 23 people were killed (including four firefighters) and nearly a thousand were injured. In October 2000, work began on preparing part of the disaster area for construction. On May 1, 2001, Mayor Jan Mans gave the official go-ahead for the first reconstruction project. The reconstruction was completed in 2010.

The Alphatoren was completed in 2008 and this tower block with 91 apartments spread over 29 floors is the tallest building in Enschede with a height of 101 meters. In the period 1995–2010, Enschede grew by about 10,000 inhabitants, but since then growth has stagnated.