Rhenen, Netherlands


Rhenen is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht. The municipality has 20,086 inhabitants (1 August 2020) and has an area of 42.99 km² (of which 1.28 km² water). In addition to the city of Rhenen, the municipality includes the villages of Elst and Achterberg.

Rhenen works together with the municipalities of Veenendaal, Wageningen, Ede, Barneveld, Nijkerk, Scherpenzeel and Renswoude in the regional partnership Regio Foodvalley.



Rhenen was granted city rights in 1258 after the place was first mentioned in 855 as 'villa Hreni' (neighborhood Rhenen). In the Middle Ages, Rhenen was the most advanced point of support for the bishop of Utrecht in his constant struggle against the counts, later dukes, of Gelre. The bishop owned the Ter Horst castle here, which was eventually demolished in 1543. After the centralization of the government by Emperor Charles V, Rhenen remained a quiet garrison town for centuries, which as one of the five cities of the Sticht played a modest role in the administration of the region.

In the seventeenth century, the expelled King Frederick V of the Palatinate had a summer residence in Rhenen. He had the palace built in 1630-1631 to a design by the Hague architect Bartholomeus van Bassen. This Royal Palace, as it was called, was demolished in 1812. Currently only a memorial stone and the street name Frederik van de Paltshof in Rhenen remind of the residence of the monarch.

In May 1940 there was fierce fighting at Rhenen between Germans and Dutch during the Battle of Grebbeberg. The population was evacuated to the west and did not return until May 18. The town turned out to be badly damaged. In Rhenen, 162 homes were completely destroyed, while about a thousand houses were badly damaged. The Cunera church and tower were still standing and could be restored. Shortly after the return, the clearing of debris began. Unemployed people were used for this. Architect ir. C. Pouderoyen made a design for the reconstruction of the town in a short time. It was deliberately chosen not to rebuild the destroyed houses, but for a new design based on the ideas of the Delft School. Pouderoyen also chose to run the provincial road through the center, instead of around it. In the course of 1942 the reconstruction plan was largely carried out. During the fighting of 1944 and 1945, during the liberation of the Netherlands, Rhenen was hit again.

In 1950, during works on the road from Rhenen to Elst, graves were found in the slope of the Donderberg. It turned out to be a Frankish burial field with about 1100 graves dating from 350 to about 750 AD. It is the richest Merovingian burial ground found in Europe. The jewelry found can be seen in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. The largest fortified castle in the Netherlands is located on the Grebbeberg. Its construction started in the period 650-710. Other early medieval finds are a gold treasure (Achterberg) and a coin treasure of approx. 100 gold coins and 170 silver coins near Remmerden and on the Koerheuvel near the old water tower a bronze situla (ritual bucket), probably from the early Dutch Iron Age ca 750 BC Chr.

In 2008 the city celebrated its 750th anniversary.

On Queen's Day 2012, then Queen Beatrix and her family visited Rhenen and Veenendaal.



Location and connections

Rhenen is located on the north bank of the Lower Rhine; on the other side is the village of Kesteren. The city is connected to the Neder-Betuwe via a bridge. This road bridge was built on the foundations of the railway bridge in the Amersfoort-Kesteren railway line, which was destroyed in 1944. The road bridge, which was officially opened in November 1957, now forms a link in Provincialeweg 233.

Rhenen is located on the southeastern point of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. The place is therefore surrounded by several nature reserves. The eastern Grebbeberg, which is part of the municipality, is the last hill of this moraine, before it changes into the Gelderse Vallei. Other hills in the municipality of Rhenen are the Elsterberg, Prattenburgse Berg, Sparreboomsche Berg, Buurtsche Berg, Paasheuvel, Thymse Berg, Koerheuvel, Donderberg and Lorseleberg.

Via Opheusdense Veer, located on the territory of the municipality of Wageningen, there is a boat connection across the Lower Rhine with the village of Opheusden.

In Elst there is a boat connection over the Lower Rhine with the village of Ingen with the Ingense Veer.

Rhenen station has been a terminus at the end of the Veenendaallijn since 1981, via Veenendaal to Utrecht.


Other cores

Achterberg, Elst, Laareind and (business park) Remmerden.

Since the reorganization of the municipalities of Amerongen, Doorn, Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Leersum and Maarn as of 1 January 2006 into the municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the formerly Amerongse part of Elst has belonged to the municipality of Rhenen.



The Cunerakerk, a late Gothic hall church. The tower is one of the finest examples of late Gothic in the Netherlands, it was built between 1492-1531.
Modern Roman Catholic Memorial Church, built between 1958 and 1959.
Building 'De Brakke' from 1787
Remains of the medieval city wall (14th century).
The Binnenmolen, a round stone flour mill from 1893.
Prattenburg estate
Grebbeberg military cemetery
The Ouwehands Zoo is located in Rhenen, on the Grebbeberg.