Roermond, Netherlands


Roermond (Limburgish: Remunj; French: Ruremonde) is a city in the Dutch province of Limburg. The city is the seat of the diocese of Roermond and is the urban core of the eponymous municipality of Roermond. The municipality had a population of 58,620 on August 1, 2020. Roermond is located at the confluence of the Roer and the Maas.

Roermond was a Hanseatic city in the late Middle Ages, and one of the four capitals of the old duchy of Gelre, second in size and largest in terms of trade.



Roermond was called Ruregemunde in 1130. The first word refers to the river Roer, which is said to be named after a Celtic-Germanic water goddess "Rura". The second part of the word seems to refer to the "estuary" of the Roer, but this is less likely since the Roer and the Maas joined the Weerd until ± 1340. The Maas then broke through its banks at Beegden and the Hambeek, 1 km southwest of Roermond, became a second mouth of the Roer in the Maas, thus creating a delta mouth. Other explanations, namely that "monde" would refer to a (possibly fortified) hill, a bridge or a Frankish castle are also uncertain.



Middle Ages

A Roman sacrificial stone found in 1968 points to the habitation of the place where Roermond is now located in the 3rd century. Later a settlement arose on the so-called Christoffelberg or Buitenop, a height to the west of the current St. Christopher's Cathedral. A fortification was created between two Rudder arms, to the southeast of it a trading post.

Ruremunde was first mentioned in writing in 1130, and in the 12th century there was already talk of a primitive earthen fortification. However, in 1213 the site was destroyed by Emperor Otto IV during his battle against the Hohenstaufen. Roermond came to belong to Opper-Gelre. Swalmen and parts of Dalenbroek now belong to the municipality of Roermond, but at the time were part of the neighboring duchy of Gulik. Between the current Swalmer-, Bethlehem-, Dionisius-, Lelie- and Paredisstraat, the reconstruction was started and the Munster Abbey was founded in 1218. In 1232 the place received city rights from Count Otto II and the first wall was added, whereby the Christoffelberg came to lie outside the walls. In 1342, the river bed of the Meuse was moved, and it came closer to the city. The suburb of Sint-Jacob was created between Maas and Roer, and two double water mills were created on a Roerarm. A second wall was built in the mid-14th century. The Munsterabdij, the Friars Minor Monastery founded in 1317, the Carthusian Monastery founded in 1376 and the Begijnhof in 1388 were all located within the walls. The Christoffelberg was excavated in 1388 because it proved difficult to defend. The Saint Christopher's Church located there was demolished and moved inside the wall.

Roermond became the capital of Upper Gelre in 1547. Thanks to shipping on the Maas, the city was able to become a member of the Hanseatic League in 1441. In addition, she acquired the right to mint in 1472. Upper Gelre fell to the Habsburg Netherlands in 1543, at the end of the Guelders Wars. Not much later the city was hit by the city fire of 1554. In 1559 the city was given a bishop's see. The Holy Spirit Church, built in the 13th century, became a cathedral. Incidentally, the St. Christopher's Church was elevated to a cathedral in 1661, while the Holy Spirit Church was demolished in 1821.


Eighty Years' War to the French Era

The city did not take part in the Dutch Revolt. At the beginning of the Eighty Years' War, William of Orange arrived and captured Roermond in July 1572, leaving the city in October. During this occupation, the soldiers of William of Orange caused a massacre in the Carthusian Monastery, see: Martelaren van Roermond. After this, the population allowed Don Frederik to enter without resistance.

Around 1613, 64 persons accused of witchcraft were burned in Roermond. Two witches were burned every day for a month.

The States' armies did not invade the region after that, until the Campaign along the Maas of 1632, in which the Republic easily took Roermond. Stadtholder Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietz was killed during the siege when a musket shot hit him in the head while inspecting the trenches.

A few years later, Roermond was recaptured by the Spaniards. The city fire of 1665 again reduced most of the city to ashes, but rebuilding soon followed. It then remained Spanish until the War of the Spanish Succession, in which Upper Guelders was occupied by French troops in 1702, but then fell under State administration until 1716. Through the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) and the new Barrier tract, Roermond returned to the Southern Netherlands, which now fell into the hands of the Archduchy of Austria; it then became the capital of Austro-Guelders. After 1783, under Emperor Joseph II, the monasteries were closed and the demolition of the city walls started.


French era and industrialization

The First French Republic ruled the city for several months in 1792-1793, under Francisco de Miranda. The city was definitively French from 1794 to 1814, when it belonged to the Nedermaas department. The last of the many monasteries in the city were closed during this period. The diocese was also dissolved in 1801. After the expulsion of the French troops, Roermond was transferred to the new United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. It then became the capital of one of the three arrondissements of the new province of Limburg. When the young state fell apart in 1830, Roermond (as before the French era) remained Belgian. The Treaty of London (1839) made Roermond a Dutch city. It also remained a member of the German Confederation until 1867.

In 1853 the diocese of Roermond was re-established. Roermond became an ecclesiastical center where numerous workshops were active that produced ecclesiastical crafts. The Venlo-Maastricht railway line of 1865, the Maas bridge of 1867 and the Iron Rhine of 1879 brought about economic growth and some industrialization. At the end of the 19th century, the walls were demolished, buildings were built along the canals and Hamstraat became an important shopping street. After 1914 the residential area Roermondse Veld, east of the station, was developed and in the 1930s the residential area Roerzicht followed south of the old town.

In 1919 Roermond got the first Dutch female councilor, Mathilde Haan.


After 1940

By the end of the Second World War, Roermond was in the front line for several months. The west bank of the Maas had already been liberated on November 14, 1944 by the capture of the lock at Panheel, and from there the city was shelled with artillery. The population was evacuated and the tower of the cathedral was blown up by the Germans. The city was liberated on March 1, 1945 by soldiers of the 9th United States Army led by Major General John B. Anderson during Operation Grenade.

After the Second World War, the municipality was expanded to include the territory of Maasniel and Herten. The rise of the textile industry (including Van de Kimmenade) put a (temporary) end to the unemployment that prevailed here after the Second World War. The place has now grown into a medium-sized city was faced with floods in 1993 and 1995, during which parts of the population were evacuated.

As a result of the Second World War, about 90% of the buildings in Roermond had been damaged. Under the general slogan that prevailed in the Netherlands, "The Netherlands will resurrect", the city started the restoration work. An important event was the completion of the tunnel under the railway in 1956, connecting the center of the city with the new, eastern neighborhoods. One of those districts was the Roermondse Veld, and later also the Kemp (southeast) and the residential area Roer (southwest) arose. These large-scale neighborhoods resulted in rapid population growth, but had the downside that the municipal land allocated to housing was soon built up. During this period the construction of the 176-meter high radio-TV tower was also started, which was completed in 1964 (shortened to 156 m in 2007). With the annexation of Maasniel in 1959, the city was given new land, which extended to the border with Germany; the new municipal boundary also became the national boundary. The fact that the rural municipality of Maasniel was added to the urban Roermond was the first major reorganization in Dutch Limburg in 1959. The Maasniel issue provides a glimpse of the development of city-country relations in Central Limburg.

The growth continued in the construction of two large industrial sites: in the north, Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus opened the Willem-Alexanderhaven, named after their son, in 1967, because it was the first official act they performed after his birth. In the southeast, the 450 ha industrial estate Heide (now better known as Heide-Roerstreek) was constructed in collaboration with four other Roerstreek municipalities. Because industrial development should run parallel to housing construction, the construction of the Donderberg was started. This district, which was built on the territory of the former municipality of Maasniel, consisted of five large flats, which, together with the surrounding low-rise buildings, house 13,000 residents. These flats were the first high-rise projects in Roermond. The construction of the N280 between Roermond and Baexem and the arrival of Hema and V&D also provided a boost in the city


With the merger of Herten in 1991, Roermond was given new expansion options. The originally small village has grown into a fully-fledged urban district in 15 years and will be almost fully built up after the completion of the Oolderveste district (900 homes). The Maasplassen imposes restrictions on the city in terms of expansion in the west and now the city is currently focusing on the eastern area. The construction of Tegelarijeveld East (200 houses) began, which was the first step towards such an expansion. The city has also been looking for a long time on the Leropperveld, a large-scale nature reserve between Roermond and Lerop, where there is room for housing. Resistance from the municipality of Roerdalen, nature conservation groups and political obstacles ensured that a housing plan (maximum 3,100 homes) has been discontinued for the time being. Furthermore, the core Asenray will get 2 additional neighborhoods. A district with 251 houses and a (Vedic) district with 71 houses

In the city itself, Roermond built up the height at a number of locations: Ernst Casimirtoren (44 meters), Kazernevoor site (45 meters), the controversial residential tower Toerist (40 meters) and Natalini Tower (61 meters) are a few high-rise projects that were realized until 2011. There are plans to redesign the station area. In addition, the construction of the residential / cultural district Roerdelta (total of 770 homes), Jazz City, Nushvelt and Sjtadshaof has started. The major renovation of the Laurentius hospital was completed in 2017.

The attack by the IRA on the market in Roermond
Four Australian tourists were attacked on May 27, 1990 at the market in Roermond, while taking pictures of the town hall. Two of them, 24-year-old Stephen Melrose and 28-year-old Nicholas Spanos, were killed. Later it turned out to be a mistake. A day later the Northern Ireland liberation army IRA declared that they were targeting British soldiers who were stationed in Germany, near Roermond.



In the early morning of April 13, 1992, at 03:20 AM, many Dutch people were startled by a powerful earthquake. The epicenter was a few kilometers southeast of Roermond in Sint Odiliënberg. The earthquake had a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The earthquake was felt in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom and is, as far as is known, the strongest ever seen in the Netherlands. In the area between Roermond, Maaseik and Heinsberg, considerable damage was caused with an intensity of over VII on the 12-part Mercalli Scale. In the landscape, land slides, bank subsidence and sand fountains occurred. Such phenomena are caused by the vibrations of the water-saturated soil. The damage to buildings was limited because the earthquake occurred approximately at a depth of 17 kilometers.

Other (light) earthquakes near Roermond were the quake of February 17, 2001 at 1:54 am with a magnitude of 2.7 and the quake of Tuesday November 28, 2006 at 10.15 am with a magnitude of 2.5 on the Richter scale. The quake of September 2, 2008, occurred just before 2 a.m. and had a magnitude of 2 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was north of the German border town of Gangelt near Koningsbosch. The earthquake, which did not cause any damage, took place at a depth of 15.8 kilometers in the Peelrand Fault.

On January 20, 2013, a quake took place in Central Limburg. This was felt in Vlodrop, Haelen and Roermond, but also in Helden and Susteren. The quake was a few minutes before half past seven and lasted a few seconds. The epicenter was, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, four kilometers from Maasbracht, at a depth of 8 kilometers. The quake had a magnitude of 3.4 on the Richter scale. The KNMI reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 3.1 and that the epicenter was at Sint Joost, at a depth of more than 23 kilometers.