Oudewater, Netherlands


Oudewater is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht. The place was granted city rights in 1265, making it the oldest city in the Green Heart. Oudewater is located at the mouth of the river Lange Linschoten in the Hollandse IJssel.



Oudewater was created around 1100 in a meander bend where the Lange Linschoten converges with the Hollandse IJssel. The origin of the name Oudewater is unknown. Most likely it is a corruption of 'old (flood) values'.

Oudewater was strategically located in the border area of ​​the County of Holland and the Sticht Utrecht. The city received city rights from the 38th bishop of Utrecht - Hendrik van Vianden - around 1265. This made the city an important frontier fortress. Oudewater originally belonged to the Sticht Utrecht. In 1280 the Sticht lost the city to the County of Holland. Oudewater was besieged in 1401 during the Arkel Wars. Only when the provincial boundaries were revised in 1970 did Oudewater become part of Utrecht again after almost 700 years.

Oudewater took part in the First Free State Assembly in Dordrecht on 19 July 1572, together with eleven other cities. In this meeting, the foundation was laid for the State of the Netherlands under the 'leadership' of the House of Orange. As a result, the population of the city was exterminated by a Spanish army after a brief siege on August 7, 1575. Tradition has it that only three residents survived this slaughter. The siege and capture of Oudewater is known as the Oudewater murder. This catastrophe is still commemorated annually. During the capture of Oudewater, a fire started that reduced a large part of the medieval buildings to ashes.

Oudewater was an important producer of rope in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, making it a prosperous city. This rope was used, among other things, for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. A large number of buildings in the historic city center still date from this period of prosperous reconstruction after the Oudewaterse Moord.

Hemp was used as a raw material for the production of the rope. This was cultivated in the wider area of ​​Oudewater. During the processing of this hemp, the yellow plant sap got on the aprons of the rope makers. The inhabitants of the town are therefore called Geelbuiken until today. [3] Until well into the 19th century there were plenty of rope makers in Oudewater. Today Oudewater has another company in the rope industry: G. van der Lee rope factory. This rope factory, founded in 1545, was the oldest surviving family business in the Netherlands until 2013.

After the Twelve Years' Truce, Oudewater becomes less involved in the Revolt. The fortifications were neglected in the years that followed, leading to the city being forced to surrender to the French on June 25 of the disaster year of 1672. However, Huis te Vliet, which has already become ruined, falls into the hands of the States and forms a base for attacks on the French. After 1672, Oudewater is strengthened and as a fortified city it becomes part of the Old Dutch Waterline.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the city lost its importance in Holland. Net and rope manufacturing remains of great economic importance, while the population remains stable at less than 2,000. In 1808, only 20 of the 52 slides are still in operation. The disappearance of the rope industry, partly due to industrialization, is leading to an impoverishment of Oudewater. The fortifications were demolished in the second half of the 19th century. The same period is characterized by the emancipation of the Catholic part of the population, leading to the construction of the St. Francis Church, a monastery, hospital and various schools.

From 1855 to 1936 Oudewater had a train station in Papekop on the Utrecht - Rotterdam railway line, which runs through the municipality. From 1906 to 1931, a horse tram ran between Oudewater and the station, the tram line Oudewater - Papekop. There was a bus service between 1931 and 1936. Earlier, from 1883 to 1907, Oudewater was connected to Gouda by tram by the Gouda - Oudewater tram line. In 1936 the station and the tram line were closed.

In the 20th century, after years of neglect due to poverty, many buildings in the city center were in a dire condition. In 1910, the Remonstrant Brotherhood made an effort to restore the birthplace of Jacobus Arminius. In 1936 the Waag is thoroughly restored. Many of the historic buildings in the city center follow this example. After the Second World War, Oudewater expanded with a number of residential areas, mainly north of the historic city center. In 1988 the former municipalities of Snelrewaard and Hoenkoop, and part of Willeskop, are added to the municipality.


In 2015, the 750th anniversary of Oudewater's city charter was celebrated exuberantly, including a visit by King Willem-Alexander to the city on 3 July 2015.

In addition to the city of Oudewater, the municipality of Oudewater includes the former municipalities of Hoenkoop, Snelrewaard and Willeskop. In 1989 the cores Papekop and Hekendorp from the discontinued municipality of Driebruggen were added to the municipality of Oudewater. Oudewater has been part of the province of Utrecht since 1970, before that it was part of South Holland. The municipality has an area of ​​40.17 km², of which 1 km² is water.

The municipality of Oudewater is located in the middle of the Green Heart. The environment is characterized by ribbon development with a major role for livestock farming. Most of the buildings in the Oudewater core lie like a wreath around the historic center north of the Hollandse IJssel. The part of the municipality to the south of this river lies in the Lopikerwaard.



Oudewater has many monuments. The city center has been largely declared a protected cityscape and has 95 municipal monuments and 127 national monuments. Oudewater has a total of more than 300 historic buildings, making it the city with the highest monument density in the Netherlands.

De Waag, which has served as a witch's weigh house since the 16th century.
The birthplace of Jacobus Arminius, a theologian born in Oudewater who is the founder of Arminian doctrine.
Rope museum "De Baanschuur" in which the history of Oudewater and the rope is presented.
The Grote or Sint-Michaëlskerk from the 15th century, a three-aisled hall church with saddleback tower from around 1300.
Oudewater Town Hall, with a Renaissance-style facade, from 1588.
The Old Catholic Church H.H. Michael and John the Baptist from 1882.
The Roman Catholic Saint Francis Church, a neo-Gothic building from 1881, designed by E.J. Margry. Together with the adjacent school, monastery and hospital, this formed the Roman Catholic center of Oudewater.
The Roman Catholic cemetery of Oudewater, with a chapel and the grave of regional novelist Herman de Man, restored in 2019
The Reformed Cemetery Oudewater, whose entrance gate and mausoleum have the status of national monument.
The former public primary school, a neo-Renaissance building from 1882 by architect M.C. of Vineyards.
The bust of Swiebertje, the drifter from the NCRV television series, which was revealed in 2003 by the actor Joop Doderer, who played this role.
The ruin of the Te Vliet house.