Harderwijk, Netherlands


Harderwijk (Low Saxon: Harderwiek) is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of Gelderland. In the 17th century there were a number of different forms of the name for Harderwijk, such as Harderwiick, Herderewich and the Latinised Hardervicum.

The municipality has 48,623 inhabitants (August 1, 2020, source: CBS) and an area of 48.27 km², of which 9.81 km² is water. The total number of homes in the municipality of Harderwijk as of 1-1-2009 is 17,301. The city of Harderwijk itself has about 44,000 inhabitants, the rest live in the outskirts, of which about 3,170 in the village of Hierden.

Harderwijk is a Hanseatic and fortified city on the edge of the Veluwe and the Wolderwijd, about halfway between Zwolle and Amersfoort. It is the regional care center for the Northwest Veluwe.



Little is known about the earliest history of Harderwijk. The oldest part may have been the vroonhoeve (curtis) Selhorst (Zelhorst) of the Utrecht chapter of St. Marie. At this settlement there was a St. Nicholas Church. The exact location of this settlement is unknown, it may have been near the Luttekepoort.


13th and 14th century

In 1231 the settlement of Herderewich, located next to Selhorst, received city rights from Count Otto II of Gelre and Zutphen, making it the first city of the Veluwe. The Sint Nicolaaskerk initially continued to function as a parish church outside the city walls. Harderwijk had four land gates, these were the Luttekepoort, the Peelenpoort, the Grote Poort and the Smeepoort, and on the sea side the Hoge and the Lage Bruggepoort (called Vischpoort from 1544). Archaeological research in 2006 has shown that Harderwijk already had a brick building in the Bruggestraat around 1250. In 1290 there is a first mention of the Friars Minor in Harderwijk. During excavations in 2014, the foundations of the church, belonging to the Friars Minor monastery in the city center, were found. Harderwijk already developed as a trading city in the thirteenth century. Ships from Harderwijk have been spotted in Flanders, Germany and England. The cargo included wool, hides, herring and wood. A cog ship was depicted on the city seal.

In the fourteenth century in particular, Harderwijk was very active in the Hanseatic League. Harderwijk was mentioned (as Ardroick) on a sea chart from 1339, which was used by sailors from Southern Europe. King Erik VI of Denmark gave the citizens of Harderwijk a vitte in 1316 in the Swedish town of Skanör-Falsterbo. In 1326 King Waldemar III of Denmark confirmed the privileges granted to Harderwijk by his grandfather Waldemar IV of Schleswig. Reinoud II, the Duke of Guelders, struck coins in Harderwijk between 1339 and 1343. After the duke died, his wife Eleonora minted coins in Harderwijk until 1355. In 1368, Swedish King Albrecht of Mecklenburg gave the citizens of Harderwijk various rights and freedoms in Denmark and Schonen for the assistance provided to him in war. The Hanseatic cities, including Harderwijk, made peace with Denmark in 1370. Harderwijk was occupied in 1372 by Duchess Mechteld of Gelre and Count Jan II of Blois. Due to a lack of money, the duchess had to pawn the city in 1376. She did this to the bishop of Utrecht, Arnold van Horne. Until 1379 the bishop minted coins in the city. Then Harderwijk came under the rule of Duke William III of Jülich and Guelders, who minted coins here until the end of his reign in 1402.


15th and 16th century

In 1402, Duke Reinoud IV of Gelre confirmed, at the start of his reign, the city privileges, rights and freedoms of Harderwijk. In 1423, at the start of the reign of Arnold van Egmont, duke of Gelre and count of Zutphen, the city privileges, rights and freedoms of the city were reaffirmed and in 1443 the Harderwijk staple right for fish was confirmed. Harderwijk probably already obtained this right in the early 14th century. The duty applied to all fish landed between Muiden and Kampen, with the exception of Elburg. This meant that this fish had to be rejected and sold in Harderwijk and that the price was set there. The products entered the city via the Hoge Bruggepoort, and not via the Vischpoort as the name suggests. The products were transported from the city to other destinations via the latter port. The fish auction took place in the former 'Herbergkwartier', located in the zone Bruggestraat, Vijhestraat and Schoolsteeg, behind the Hoge Bruggepoort.

In 1446 negotiations were conducted in Harderwijk about a heated conflict between North German Hanseatic cities on the one hand and Dutch and Zeeland cities on the other. Ultimately, the Peace of Harderwijk was signed here. In 1465 the new Duke Adolf van Egmont reaffirmed the city privileges, rights and freedoms of Harderwijk. Bishop Hendrik van Münster did the same in 1480, during the Guelders War of Independence, but later that year the city came under the authority of Maximilian of Austria. This in turn confirmed the rights of the city in 1482, just like Duke Karel van Gelre in 1492. In 1498, during the conflicts between Schieringers and Vetkopers, Duke Albrecht of Saxony had an army of 1500 German lanserves embarked in Harderwijk for a final successful raid on Westergo.


The beginning of the 16th century was a turbulent period for Harderwijk. In 1503 a city fire took place in Harderwijk. Most of the city archives were lost and many people lost their lives. To compensate for the damage suffered, Karel van Gelre gave the city permission to mint coins in his name. During the Guelders Wars, Duke Karel van Gelre had a fleet equipped in Harderwijk many times. This was also the case in 1504, when he wanted to attack Waterland. On the way it came to a sea battle with the Dutch fleet, which Gelre lost. In 1505 the city had to surrender to the Burgundians. A year later (1506), the plague made many victims among the inhabitants of the city. In 1507 Charles of Gelre besieged the city in vain, but in 1511 he succeeded in conquering the city. The following year (1512) the city was again hit by the plague. That same year, Karel van Gelre had an army skated from Harderwijk to Woerden. From 1514 Karel van Gelre was regularly in Harderwijk to keep an eye on the troops leaving for Friesland. For example, he had a fleet of 700 lancers ready and with a well-prepared attack via Gaasterland he succeeded in invading Friesland. In 1518, Charles mediated in a heated conflict between the council and the bourgeoisie of Harderwijk about doubling the excise duties on beer. Four councilors are being replaced. Karel also had a number of privateers equipped to carry out raids on Dutch and Sticht ships. In 1519 he had the Nieuwe Blokhuis, a forced castle, built on the north side of the city. The St. Nicholas Church was demolished in 1524. In 1528 there was another city fire and after a two-week siege the city was taken by the Habsburg general Floris van Egmont, but already in October of that year, after the Treaty of Gorinchem, Emperor Charles V had to return the city to Gelre. . In 1537, Karel van Gelre came to Harderwijk with 700 warriors and occupied the city for a few days. He also had a fleet equipped for a (failed) attack on Enkhuizen. Two anchors hang from the Drommedaris in Enkhuizen, which, according to legend, were captured from the Geldersen during this attack.

The Harderwijk Citizen Orphanage was founded in 1554 by Johan van Speulde. In 1566 the Nieuwe Blokhuis was raided twice by rebellious citizens. In September of that year, the Beeldenstorm in Harderwijk took place. Harderwijk opted for the Protestant faith and in the period 1578-1580 all monasteries had to transfer their possessions to the city. In 1581, the Nieuwe Blokhuis was demolished for new fortifications. The Gelderse Munt was established in Harderwijk in 1584 and minted coins there until 1806.


17th and 18th century

From 1648 to 1811 the city had a university, the University of Harderwijk. Ernst Brinck, who besides mayor of Harderwijk was also a linguist and literature expert, was at the origin of this university or Gelderland Academy. Famous PhD students included the physician Herman Boerhaave, the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, the philosopher János Apáczai Csere and the discoverer of Easter Island Jacob Roggeveen. According to some, Professor David de Gorter (1689-1762) was one of the best professors Harderwijk ever had. In 1754 he went to Russia to become the physician of Tsarina Elisabeth Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great.

On June 18, 1672 Harderwijk fell into the hands of the French occupiers. With the retreat of the French on September 5, 1673, the fortifications were demolished; the Smeepoort and Luttekepoort were even blown up. The city was set on fire on all sides. Rapid action only burned down one school and about thirty houses.


19th and 20th century

From 1814 onwards, the Colonial Yard Depot for the East Indies Army (later the Royal Netherlands Indies Army) was located in Harderwijk, which was sometimes derogatoryly called "the gutter hole of Europe". Due to a shortage of recruits, volunteers were recruited from all over Europe, often from dubious backgrounds. The recruits received a considerable sum of money when registering, which often disappeared into prostitution even before they set foot on board. The depot was closed in 1910. Almost 150,000 soldiers found their way from Harderwijk to the Indies. Among them was the French poet Arthur Rimbaud.


Harderwijk was a garrison town from 1909 to 1996. The city had three barracks and a military hospital. Harderwijk housed various army units, of which the infantry, artillery and communication troops formed the main part. For example, there was a training center for all infantry units and there was a school of the Military Intelligence Service

During the First World War, some 15,000 Belgians were placed in an internment camp near the city. Later, the Belgian Military Field of Honor 1914-1918 was established at the Harderwijk cemetery Oostergaarde. Here 349 Belgians are commemorated. Many of them died of the Spanish flu.

Until the closure of the Zuiderzee in 1932, fishing also played an important role in the city. They fished for herring, anchovies, eel and shrimps, among other things. On average 10 to 15 percent of the labor force worked in this sector. In its heyday, the fishing fleet consisted of some 130 to 160 registered fishing vessels. In 1913 a fish auction was opened at the harbor, which remained in function until 1967. After the closure of the Zuiderzee, fishing as a source of livelihood declined sharply, industry and tourism took that place. A great fighter against this closure was the Harderwijker Eibert den Herder, who was also the founder of tourism in Harderwijk. The city is now located right on the Veluwemeer (north of the city) and the Wolderwijd (west of the city), both created after the Flevopolder was drained. Where the boulevard now lies on the lakes, the fishing boats used to moor at the Vischpoort to trade their fish on the Vischmarkt. It is still possible to take boat trips on one of the lakes.

On 11 and 12 May 1940, just after the German invasion that marked the start of the Second World War for the Netherlands, Harderwijk took in about 8,000 evacuated Nijkerkers, doubling the population of the city for a few days. The German occupation began in Harderwijk on May 14, even before the Dutch capitulation. In the city meadows, the Germans built the Stellung Hase, a radar station that served as a listening post for the Luftwaffe. At Harderwijk, 117 allied airmen, including Americans, British, Canadians, South Africans and New Zealanders, were killed. 45 soldiers of the Royal Air Force are buried at Harderwijk General Cemetery. During the war, 72 inhabitants in Harderwijk, 21 of whom were of Jewish descent, were killed by the German occupier. On Wednesday April 18, 1945, Canadian troops liberated Harderwijk.

In 1965, the Dolfinarium Harderwijk was opened, which grew into the largest marine mammal park in Europe with approximately one million visitors annually.



The picturesque city center of Harderwijk was declared a protected cityscape in 1969 and in 2009 has nearly a hundred national monuments.

The Protestant Grote or Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk is a three-aisled basilica, partly dating back to the late 14th century; the transept dates from the 15th century. The tower collapsed on January 28, 1797 and was never rebuilt. The church was extensively restored in the years 1972-1980, with important 16th-century murals discovered. A beautiful building is the former St. Catherine's monastery with late Gothic chapel (1502; restored in 1913 and 1980).

The Vischpoort, the Smeepoort and approximately two kilometers of wall fragments remain of the medieval walls. On the Markt is the former town hall, of medieval origin, which was completely rebuilt in 1837 in neoclassical style, while retaining the Louis XIV-style council chamber (1727). The former pest house (late 16th century) was originally an early 16th century chapel of the Brothers. The Linnaeustorentje is an octagonal late gothic stair tower (16th century, restored in 1907) of a disappeared city building of the Commandery 's-Heerenloo. It owes its name to a bust of Carolus Linnaeus, who obtained his doctorate at the University of Harderwijk (1647-1811).

There are also several mansions from the 17th and 18th centuries. The fishing and cloth industry have also been important sources of income, while the city has traditionally fulfilled a regional care function. There was already a Latin School in 1441, which in 1647 was elevated to the Academy of the Vorstendoms Gelre and County Zutphen. In the 18th century, Harderwijk slowly declined to an insignificant town, but the university of applied sciences was not closed until 1812. The strong growth started after the Second World War when industrialization emerged.

The De Hoop windmill is a replacement for the old De Hoop windmill, which was lost by fire in 1969. The rebuilt mill is on the other side of the harbor of Harderwijk.


Harderwijk houses two military cemeteries, both located at Oostergaarde Cemetery. The Belgian Military Field of Honor 1914-1918 contains 225 Belgian soldiers who were interned in the Netherlands during the First World War and who died during their internment or before their repatriation. Another 124 Belgians are listed on a monument, who could not be reburied in the only Belgian military plot in the Netherlands. At the time, there was a large internment camp for Belgian soldiers near Harderwijk. At a British military cemetery, Harderwijk General Cemetery, another 49 fallen RAF soldiers from the Second World War are buried.