Veenendaal is a town and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht, located on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and the Gelderse Vallei. The municipality has 66,918 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) and has an area of 19.81 km² (of which 0.17 km² is water). Veenendaal works together with the municipalities of Rhenen, Wageningen, Ede, Barneveld, Nijkerk, Scherpenzeel and Renswoude in the regional partnership Regio Foodvalley.
The name is probably the first to be used on 7 September 1543 as 'Venendael' in the Traktaat van Venlo. Then the name 'Veenendael' is used in the consecration of the church inaugurated in 1566. Before that, 'the peat' was common, a name that is still used today. In a document from 1587 the name 'Veenlantdael' is used once. Old maps also show: 'Vennedael', 'Veennedeal', 'Vennedale' and 'Venendaal'. The name must therefore be understood as 'Veenen-Daal', and not as 'Veen-en-Daal'.
A swampy peat area has long been located in the Gelderse Valley north of Rhenen, also known as the Rhenense or Stichtse venen. These originated at the end of the last ice age because of the poor drainage of the area. At the end of the Middle Ages, peat was increasingly used as a fuel instead of wood. As in many other areas in the Netherlands, the peat was also mined in this area. This took place from around 1430. The Bisschop Davidsgrift was constructed at the end of the 15th century to ensure smooth drainage of the peat. The peat areas were located in areas of the duchy of Gelre as well as the foundation of Utrecht. Due to the wars between the two parties, mining was stopped and the Grift silted up. After Charles V also became Landsheer of the Gelderland Duchy in 1543, dyeing was resumed. On March 12, 1546, the owners received official permission for this by means of a patent.
Origin of a village
The first development of the new peat colony arose along the Grift and a number of side branches. One of those side branches ran along a sand hill (also known as the Kleine Veenloo, a small isolated moraine). A church and a market were built on this site in 1566. After all, it was expected that the peat industry would take a considerable time. Veenendaal thus became a green village with ribbon development, but still divided over two provinces. There was a Utrecht ('Sticht') Veenendaal and a Gelderland Veenendaal. Stichts Veenendaal was just like Renswoude under the municipality of Rhenen, Gelders Veenendaal under Ede. In 1637 the entire population of the village died of a plague epidemic. In 1795, some Veense citizens took advantage of the invasion of the French armies to establish their own municipality, separate from Rhenen and Ede. In the end, only the Sticht part became independent, with more than 1,900 inhabitants at that time.
Industrialization and flooding
When the peat ran out in the mid-17th century, a period of stagnation began. The cottage industry of that period was mechanized from the middle of the 19th century, the wool industry owes its origin to this. Together with the cigar industry, the textile industry was decisive for Veenendaal until the first half of the 20th century. Little is left of this in 2020, because the industries have been displaced to low-wage countries and almost all existing factories from that time have been demolished and replaced by new buildings. Little of the water-rich past can be found in the center. De Grift and all its side branches have been filled in due to pollution and road construction. What remains are strikingly wide street profiles, this is clearly visible at the Nieuweweg, the Hoogstraat, the Hoofdstraat and the Zandstraat. However, the Omleidingskanaal, which was dug in 1866, still exists and connects to the original course of the Grift outside the center. After the Grebbedijk near Rhenen was breached on 5 March 1855, Veenendaal was almost completely flooded. Most of the people hid in the high church in the market square. Because Veenendaal is one of the lowest lying parts of the Gelderse Valley, the water was very high here. Afterwards, the people were transported by barge and train to Utrecht. Afterwards, King William III visited the affected area. There is a monument on Kerkewijk and the disaster is commemorated in the historical museum, Museum Veenendaal.
In the run-up to the Second World War, approximately two thousand soldiers were stationed in and around Veenendaal since the Dutch mobilization in August 1939. After the German invasion on May 10, 1940, the population of Veenendaal was evacuated because Veenendaal was close to the Grebbelinie. At the time of the war, Veenendaal had a small Jewish community, but it suffered the same fate as the Jewish population in the rest of the country. At the time of compulsory registration in January 1941, 22 Jews lived in Veenendaal. Twelve of them died in the death camps.
Veenendaal was the last municipality on the mainland of the
Netherlands to be liberated. After the German capitulation, the
Dutch and German SS men stationed in Veenendaal initially continued
to rule. On May 7, several members of the Domestic Armed Forces went
to take a look. They got into a firefight with a group of SS men.
Three BS'ers lost their lives. A day later allied soldiers withdrew
to the village, but withdrew after skirmishes. Veenendaal was only
liberated when on 9 May several Allied sherman tanks and armored
cars entered the village. Because the bridge at Kerkewijk had been
blown up, the southern part of Veenendaal was only liberated on May
Partly because of and as a result of the experiences in the Second World War, an emergency hospital was set up in Veenendaal, which would be continued after the war on the outskirts of the village (on Rhenen's territory); it was called Julianaziekenhuis Veenendaal (see the relevant page for further details).
In 1960, Gelders Veenendaal joined Stichts Veenendaal through a boundary correction, while pieces of Rhenen and Renswoude were also annexed. This created a municipality with an area of almost eighteen square kilometers and (then) more than 23,000 inhabitants. After this, Veenendaal has grown in more than forty years to a population of more than 63,000 people. This could be achieved, among other things, by the construction of the Dragonder, Petenbos and West districts. To enable the construction of three new, life-course-proof residential areas in Veenendaal-East (Buurtstede, Groenpoort and Veenderij), a piece of land was once again acquired from Ede in 1998. Veenendaal can thus grow to more than 70,000 inhabitants. In 1997 Veenendaal was the Greenest City in Europe.
Veenendaal was the Bicycle City of the Netherlands in 2000 and 2020 and nominated for that in 2002, 2008 and 2018. In 2004 the prize for the greenest city in the Netherlands was awarded to Veenendaal and in 2013 Veenendaal won the National City Marketing Award for medium-sized municipalities.
The then Queen Beatrix and her family visited Veenendaal and Rhenen in 2012 during Queen's Day.
Veenendaal consists of a number of neighborhoods, which were
built in different periods and which are therefore also based on a
different urban design vision. Until the Second World War, the
buildings were limited to the historic ribbons and some loose
streets that connected to them. After this, the expansions took on a
more planned character in view of the housing shortage that
prevailed in the Netherlands from that moment on. The following
statistical districts are distinguished:
The Centrum district (local language: 't Dorp) is the heart of the municipality with an urban facility structure and some historically characteristic elements, such as some former industrial sites. 80% of the buildings in the district consist of apartments, both for sale and for rent. The shopping center is located in this district. The shopping center consists of more than 300 shops, 150 of which are located in the covered shopping centers Passage-De Corridor and de Scheepjeshof. In the new construction project Brouwerspoort canals can be found, as a reminder of the many waterways that used to be in Veenendaal in the past. The district consists of the neighborhoods Koopcentrum, Vijgendam and surroundings, Beatrixstraat and surroundings and the Schrijverswijk.
Northeast consists of the neighborhoods: Dragonder-Noord, Dragonder-Zuid, De Compagnie-Oost, Spitsbergen, Dragonder-Oost and Veenendaal-Oost. The Veenendaal autoboulevard is located on the De Compagnie-Oost industrial estate in this district. The De Meent nursing home is also located in this district. Furthermore, the district with Spitsbergen has a sports park. In Dragonder-Noord there is a neighborhood shopping center called Aller Erf. A neighborhood shopping center is currently under construction in the new district Dragonder-Oost. A supermarket has already opened.
Southeast consists of the neighborhoods: Engelenburg, Het Ambacht, Boslaan and surroundings, Petenbos-West, Petenbos-East, Nijverkamp, De Groene Velden, De Blauwe Hel and Bezuiden de Middelbuurtseweg. Near De Groene Velden you will find both the city park of Veenendaal and the recreational lake 'De Surfvijver'. The Groene Velden consists largely of sports fields (hockey, football, baseball, Frisbee, korfball) and an ice rink. De Blauwe Hel is a protected nature reserve.
Southwest consists of the neighborhoods: 't Goeie Spoor and surroundings, French Gat and Salamander. The district includes a large neighborhood shopping center, the Bruïneplein. The Veenendaal Centrum station is sandwiched between this district and the Center.
Northwest consists of the neighborhoods: Molenbrug, 't Hoorntje, De Pol, De Gelderse Blom, De Compagnie and De Batterijen. The Compagnie and Batterijen are an industrial estate with large companies such as DPD and Profile's headquarters, but this is also where the Basiliek and hotel Van der Valk are located.
West consists of the neighborhoods: Oudeveen and De Schans and surroundings, Composers neighborhood, Vogelbuurt, Schepenbuurt, Dichtersbuurt, De Faktorij and De Vendel, Fort Buurtsteeg (Veenendaal) and Bezuiden de Dijkstraat. Fort Buurtsteeg is a fort on the border of Veenendaal and Renswoude. The district includes the Ellekoot shopping center, and Veenendaal West Station is next to the shopping center.