Gennep, Netherlands


Gennep is a city in the Dutch province of Limburg. On January 1, 2020, Gennep had 9,250 inhabitants. The city of Gennep is located at the confluence of the rivers Maas and Niers.



Gennep is derived from the Celtic 'Ganapja'. It thus refers to the location of Gennep: a place where two waters meet, the Maas and the Niers. At a ford at this spot, both a north-south and an east-west road of the Romans converged.

After the Second World War, it appears that there was already a wooden church under the (old) church around 750. A major city fire at the end of the 16th century destroyed all information about this, but Gennep must have acquired its city rights well before 1371. A letter from 1371 mentions a worn and barely legible document.

The city had about 750 inhabitants and could be entered through 3 gates; the Zandpoort, the Nierspoort and the Maaspoort, which was the last to be demolished in 1820. The city did not experience much growth, mainly due to the strategic location of the nearby Genneperhuis, as a result of which different groups of foreign soldiers occupied Gennep many times. Unlike the castle, the town was indefensible, mainly due to the demolition of the city castle that must have stood on the site of the current Saint Martin's Church.

The city has been under different government several times: Cleves (1441), Prussian (1609), French (1794), Dutch (1815), Belgian (1830) and finally Dutch (1839).

From 1540, Protestants fled to Gennep, fleeing the Spaniards. Because Gennep did not belong to the Republic at the time of the Republic in the 16th and 17th centuries, a Low German Reformed church was built here in 1660 from its own resources. This in contrast to the many other Protestant churches from before 1660. Usually a Catholic church was 'reformed' and taken into use by the Protestants. In the Prussian Gennep this was impossible, so that today Gennep has the oldest Protestant church on its soil, which was paid out of its own funds. The church is Dutch Reformed and is located next to the town hall that was built by Van Bommel after the great city fire of 1597. 'S-Heerenberg and Venlo also have a town hall designed by him. The similarities between the three town halls are visible to everyone.

After the Congress of Vienna, it was decided that Prussia should not influence Maas shipping. A cannon shot (800 Rhenish rods, approx. 3000 m) shows how far Prussia should be from the Meuse. This brings Gennep to lie within the newly formed United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The city does not have much prosperity.

During the construction of the Nijmegen-Maastricht motorway in 1845, the existing Niersbrug in Gennep was used, making the town more accessible. When in 1869 the NBDS also built the Boxtel - Wesel railway through Gennep, a great flowering period began. This railway line has long been part of the shortest route between London and Moscow, through which, among others, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Russian gold travel via Gennep station. The Voorhoeve Park offers homes to many workers. Companies such as the Page (Gennep Paper Factory) make good use of the railway. The Maas-Buurtspoorweg also establishes its head office in Gennepse, next to the NBDS head office. The Gennep railway bridge is a point of discussion, because in this way Prussia could cross the Maas too easily in case of war. Most likely, for the same reason, the Maaslijn will not be placed on the eastern side, Gennep, but on the western side, Brabant.

In 1878 a contagious throat disease hit Gennep; in the three months time 45 children die and the schools close. Two years later, a huge flood disaster hits the city. Almost only the high-altitude Markt and the newly built monastery Sint Norbertusgesticht remain dry.

From 1916 a so-called lounge hall was opened for bedridden people with a long recovery period. At the request of doctor Stiemens, patients with lung diseases also come to Gennep. From 1918 they are received at Maria-oord. TB sufferers come to Gennep from all over the Netherlands. Ultimately, a large rest home complex is created.

The fear that the Maas Bridge is a weak spot in the Dutch defense came true in 1940 when the Gennepse Maas Bridge was the only one, by ruse, to fall into German hands on the first day of the war. The Peel-Raamstelling has therefore become untenable.

In the autumn of 1944 the bridge was blown up by the German army. The Allies cannot cross the Maas because of this. Between October 1944 and February 1945, the Maas was the front area, but after the liberation of Gennep on February 12 that year (during Operation Veritable), a bailey bridge was started. Due to the rising water, the Gennep bridge will eventually become the longest bailey bridge to be built during the Second World War.


Partly due to the closure of the Dutch-German border after WWII, the railway line became less popular and eventually it was discontinued. The decline had already started because of the Dutch neutrality in WWI and the stock market crash of 1929. In 1971 the last train entered Gennep in complete silence and the railway bridge was used one more time for a carnival-like leute express. In the meantime, a car bridge was built next to the railway bridge in the 1950s, so that the centuries-old ferry to Oeffelt can be taken out of service.

To compensate for the loss of the head office of the Noord-Brabantsch-Duitsche Spoorwegmaatschappij (NBDS), Zuidooster Autobusdiensten NV is located in Gennep. With the merger of Zuidooster and VSL to Hermes, this head office will also be closed. A stone's throw from the head office, one of Esso's 112 characteristic pumping stations by the designer Willem Dudok has stood for years since 1953. This pumping station also did not survive the ravages of time and has made way for a modern successor.

During the Reconstruction in the 1950s, a new Roman Catholic church was built on the edge of the old town center. The old St. Martin's Church is said to have been so damaged by war damage that it could no longer be used for worship. The new church, in the style of the Bossche School, is inaugurated on Christmas Day 1954.

In the early 1960s, local milkman Jan Linders started a novelty in Gennep: a supermarket. It turns out to be a bull's eye.

The heath around Gennep has been interpreted in various ways. For example, the institutions for mentally-physically handicapped Maria Roepaan and Augustinusstichting were located there, a spa for TB patients and now a Center Parcs.

The municipality of Gennep has realized a 25 ha industrial estate, called "De Brem" in Heijen, near the industrial estate "De Grens" and the A77. Gennep also wants a renovated city center as a tourist attraction with, among other things, a Ceramics Experience, apartment complexes "Gennep Centraal" and "Het Bolwerk". Het Bolwerk houses a Jan Linders supermarket in almost the same place where the first supermarket was located.



Some sights in Gennep:
Religious Heritage
Martinus tower from 1869 and accompanying cemetery
Reformed church, the first church built for Protestant worship on Dutch soil from 1663
Saint Martin's Church and De Crypte museum, from 1954
St. Norbert's Church from 1986.
Sacred Heart Image (1922)
Jewish cemetery on the Davidlaan


Secular structures

Gennep's oldest house with a pinnacle facade from around 1525
17th century town hall with Ceramic Museum
Municipal office, designed by the architectural firm Alberts & Van Huut from 1994
Medieval city wall and city park
Belt mill De Reus from 1848
Natural environment of the Maaskemp with the ruin of the Genneperhuis



mosaic square on the Ellen Hoffmannplein
Museum Het Petershuis, in late Gothic architectural style
Loc 94 1640, a locomotive from 1923, a monument in memory of the German Lijntje
Villa Aurora on the Heijenseweg


National monuments

In the municipality there are a number of national monuments, municipal monuments, and war memorials, see:
List of national monuments in Gennep (location)


Nature and landscape

Gennep is located on the right bank of the Maas, at a height of approximately 12 meters. The bowl of Gennep is bordered on the north side by the Niers. This forms a peninsula towards the mouth with the ruins of the Genneperhuis at its extreme point. South of Gennep is the Saint Augustine Foundation, an institution for the mentally handicapped. The Heijense Bos and Het Huis Heijen estate are located on the territory of Heijen. In the east you will find the Genneperheide, a nature reserve. Subsequently, the Maria Roepaan institution is located on the territory of Ottersum. Since 2000, a pair of storks have been nesting in the old town hall of Gennep and since 2015 they can be followed live on the webcam of the Vogelbescherming ('Experience the Spring').