Wijk bij Duurstede is a fortified city and municipality in the south of the Dutch province of Utrecht. The municipality has 23,901 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) on an area of 50.3 km², of which 2.68 km² is water. The waterways Nederrijn, Lek, Kromme Rijn and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal flow through and along Wijk bij Duurstede. The municipality is adjacent to the municipalities of Houten, Bunnik, Utrechtse Heuvelrug, Culemborg and Buren. Wijk bij Duurstede was twinned with Jičín (Czech Republic).
Various explanations are given for the name part District, such as that it could be traced back to the Roman vicus, or the Germanic wik, which means "bend" or "inlet". The name part Duurstede can be traced back to the former trading place Dorestad, which name is at least partly of Celtic origin.
During Roman times, a Roman castellum, possibly Levefanum, was located on the site of what is now Wijk bij Duurstede aan de Rijn. The northern border (limes) of the Roman Empire also ran straight through Wijk bij Duurstede.
In the early Middle Ages, one of the most important trading places in northwestern Europe was located here: Dorestad. For a long time it has been believed that Dorestad fell around 850 due to Viking attacks. In the meantime, however, it is seriously taken into account that natural and (church) political factors, together with the shifting power relations, probably played a more important role. The Rhine bed would have moved a bit, the harbor would also have started to silt up at that time and in addition there was a rise in water. The decline of Dorestad meant a period of prosperity for Tiel, Deventer and later Utrecht. Many finds have been made in and around Wijk bij Duurstede from these historical periods, which can be seen in Museum Dorestad.
Wijk bij Duurstede received city rights from Gijsbrecht van Abcoude in 1300. It was built on a residential tower built in 1270 that would grow into Duurstede castle. It is likely that shortly afterwards work began on the construction of an earthen wall and moat in order to defend the city, partly using the old river beds for the moat.
In the middle of the 14th century the city was expanded in an easterly direction and probably in the same period the city was provided with a city wall that was equipped with city gates and fortification towers. The city wall and moat were renovated around 1445.
The municipality of Wijk bij Duurstede has a rural location above the major rivers in the middle of the Netherlands. It is located at the junction of the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal with the Lek and the junction of the Nederrijn in the Lek and the Kromme Rijn.