Soest is a town and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht. The municipality has 46,842 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) and has an area of 46.43 km². Soest, Soesterberg and the hamlet of Soestduinen are the centers in this municipality, which is also rich in dunes, forests, heather and meadows, largely used as a training ground for the Dutch army. The municipality has a partnership with the eponymous Soest in Westphalia, Germany.
Origin of the name Soest
The name Soest, previously spelled Zoys, Soyse, Suysen or Sose, could possibly mean 'source on the border of high and low ground', or indicate a settlement on 'side-east', because it lies on the east side of the Soester Eng. The latter is no more than folk etymology.
History of Soest
The oldest traces of (temporary) habitation around Soest have been found in the Soester Duinen. Around 11,000 BC the region was populated by hunter groups. The finds consisted of a few stone tools from 8000 BC. At the beginning of 2014, it was announced that a bivouac with flint remnants and fireplaces had been found on the old korfball field on Staringlaan. The Center for Archeology dated the find to the Middle Stone Age.
Soest has a large number of burial mounds from late prehistoric times, including one on the Engh and a number near De Stompert and De Vlasakkers. These burial mounds date from the period from the Late Neolithic to the Early Iron Age. Traces of occupation from late prehistoric times have not been found in Soest to date.
The first mention of the village of Soest dates back to 1028, but in 2004 the village celebrated its 975th anniversary. Soest originated as a colony from nearby Amersfoort. The first farmers settled on the southeast slope of the Engh, an offshoot of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. They were thus protected against the Zuiderzee, which regularly flooded the Eempolder. The Engh was cultivated and fertilized to make it suitable for arable farming. Cattle grazed in the polder. The colony grew into a small farming village. To the west, behind the Engh, was the hamlet of Heze, which was older than Soest. However, Heze disappeared because the sand drifts, of which the present Soester Dunes are a remnant, took a stroll and buried the hamlet in the 15th century. The name Heze still lives on in the Overhees and Hees districts.
Soest was regularly the scene of military events. Already in 1278 a battle took place on the Engh between Holland and Utrecht. Also in 1356 a small battle took place near Soest, between a Dutch and Sticht army.
The foundation of the Mariënburg monastery in 1470 made Soest more important and on September 26, 1472 Soest obtained alderman's rights. But at the beginning of the 16th century, Soest was looted and burned to the ground by the troops of Maarten van Rossum. The nuns were raped and nothing but rubble remained of the monastery. Zoestdyck and 't Hart were founded in the 17th century. Zoestdyck originated on the road that was located along the Soesterveen, this raised (dyke) through road towards Baarn gave the hamlet its name. 't Hart was a hamlet consisting of sheep farmers and peat cutters. Peat cutting already took place in the Soesterveen in the 14th century, but intensified in the course of the 17th century. The peat was transported by boats, the so-called pramen, over the Praamgracht to the Eem.
In 1650, Cornelis de Graeff, then mayor of Amsterdam, had a country residence built along the Zoestdyck, the Hofstede aen Zoestdijck, the current Soestdijk Palace, which is located in the Baarnse part of Soestdijk. In 1674 William III of Orange had it converted into a hunting lodge. Soestdijk now became a village with a number of large country estates, just like Baarn, while Soest itself remained a farming village. Around 1890 Soestdijk was a village where the elite, mainly from Amsterdam, settled. There were many private houses, but also several hotels. The wealthy came to Soestdijk because of the clean air and the beautiful nature.
In 1895 the Soester Horse Tram started running and in 1898 Soest was connected to the railway network with the Stichtse Lijn. Around 1900 Soest had only 4,700 inhabitants. It was not until around 1920 that Soestdijk and Soest grew together. In the 1930s Soest-Zuid and the hamlet of Soestduinen also grew, with the construction of often larger villas. In 1945 Soest had 16,000 inhabitants.
In the 1960s the village was further 'modernized'. This meant that a number of outdoor areas were demolished, so that the surface of the gardens provided extra space for housing and because the maintenance of the villas had simply become too expensive. Soestdijk's main street underwent a metamorphosis. The stately mansions gave way to shops and social housing. This made the village less attractive and all of the hotels and guesthouses closed their doors. Well-known hotels were Hotel Trier, Hotel Eemland and the Oranjehotel. Hotel Trier was diagonally opposite the Palace. The hotel was vacated in 1960, after which the youth from Baarn and Soestdijk settled there. That eventually led to the hotel being demolished.
In the years that followed, Soest expanded further, with the
districts Helder and Smitsveen in the 1970s and Overhees in the
1980s. The most recent extension is the Boerenstreek, where
construction began in four stages from 1997 onwards. The village of
Soest also had a hospital called Zonnegloren until 1996; this
hospital has been converted into the Meander Medical Center.
Soest now has approximately 45,500 inhabitants.
In Soest, near Park Vredehof / Vredehofstraat, was the thickest
giant sequoia in the province of Utrecht. It fell in a storm in
On the Soester Engh the De Windhond tower mill was rebuilt and put into use on 10 May 2008.
Originally at the end of the 13th century Petrus and Pauluskerk, since the construction of the R.C. Petrus and Pauluskerk in 1853, called Oude Kerk. Most of its current appearance was acquired in the 15th century. Is beautifully situated in the characteristic Kerkebuurt.
R.K. Petrus en Pauluskerk, Waterstaat Church from 1852. Only the striking neoclassical tower is still original. The ship was modernized in the 60s of the twentieth century. The interior still contains original 19th-century details.
The Reformed Emmakerk from 1930 was designed in a business expressionist style by architect P. Beekman.
Soester Duinen; Lange en Korte Duinen, largest drifting dune area of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug.
The national rest home for old horses and ponies, Stichting De Paardenkamp, located on Birkstraat. A retirement home with more than 100 horses, which exists entirely through donations and gifts from donors. Also the owner of the farm Het Gagelgat from 1712, one of the oldest longhouse farms in the region (national monument) and known from the SBS6 program Het Mooiste Pand van Nederland.
Huize St. Jozef, former monastery from 1868, in which Museum Soest is located.