Woerden, Netherlands


Woerden is a city and municipality in the west of the Dutch province of Utrecht, in the east of the Green Heart. The municipality consists of the centers of Woerden, Harmelen, Kamerik and Zegveld. The municipality of Woerden has 52,558 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: Statistics Netherlands) and the city of Woerden has 37,930 inhabitants (1 January 2020).



Woerden dates back to Roman times, when around 41 AD the castellum Laurium was founded on this spot, at a natural height. This castellum was an encampment along the northern border of the Roman Empire, which was formed by the Rhine, nowadays the Old Rhine. Laurium has been in use until around 270. A number of Roman ships have been found in Woerden, and a replica has been used for boat tours since 2009.

Between 719 and 722 Boniface stayed in Woerden to preach. Around the year 795 Woerden was called Wyrda.

During the Middle Ages, Woerden started to be more fortified from the 12th century (a castle, ramparts, canals). Around 1160 Godfried van Rhenen, bishop of Utrecht, had a fortification built at the settlement of Worden (sometimes also called Worthene) on the Oude Rijn. The purpose of the reinforcement was to counteract the expansion of the Count of Holland. The city had a wooden church, which burned down in 1202.

The Lords of Woerden owned Woerden and its surroundings in the period 1165 - 1304. The current coat of arms of Woerden, a yellow plane with three black diamonds, was recognized in 1277 as a coat of arms for Herman van Woerden.

The water in Woerden was managed by the Groot Waterschap. This existed from 1226 and made Woerden independent of the Rhineland Water Board. However, the city and its surroundings were completely dependent on the water board for drainage. In 1995 the Groot Waterschap was added to De Stichtse Rijnlanden.

On the southwestern side of the city, a castle was founded by Count Floris V around 1275. In the thirteenth century a stone church was also built, which in the coming centuries was expanded further and further to the current Petruskerk.

Woerden received city rights from Duke Albrecht of Bavaria on 12 March 1372. The construction of the Castle of Woerden started in 1410 and the town hall in 1501. Later monumental buildings are the Lutheran church (1646), the Rectory (1672), Petruskerk (1673), the windmill De Windhond (1755), the Arsenaal (1762), the Kruijthuis (1784), the Kazerne (1790), the Klooster (1899), the water tower (1906) and the Saint Bonaventura Church (1892), which dominates the cityscape from afar with its high needle point.

The Woerden priest Jan de Bakker was the first in the Northern Netherlands to be burned at the stake in 1525 because of his preaching deviating from Roman Catholic church doctrine. The religious disputes in Woerden were initially limited. However, the Catholic Duke Erik of Brunswijk, who had been appointed Lord of Woerden by Philip II, violently suppressed attempts to introduce Lutheran worship in the Peter Church in September 1566. The Siege of Woerden followed in 1575-1576. During that siege the Miracle of Woerden took place, which gave the starving population food again. Woerden, which sided with the Revolt in 1572, was besieged by the Spaniards: the city survives and the Spaniards break up their siege after a year.

Around 1600, in addition to the ramparts, enclosure and moat, the city received additional reinforcement in the form of a raveline and four bastions, which were largely built on the corners of the existing city wall.

The city was twice severely affected by the French. The first time was in the Disaster Year 1672. Woerden was then part of the Old Dutch Waterline. The Battle of Kruipin took place on the night of October 11 to October 12, 1672 at Fort Kruipin. The French occupied the city for a year, during which time they carried out a reign of terror in which many buildings were burned, including St. Peter's Church, and archives destroyed.

A map from 1725 shows that a second canal has been constructed around the city. There is an undeveloped defense field between the inner and outer moats.

The second time that the city suffered from the French was in 1813, at the end of the French Era, when the population took the side of the Prince of Orange a little too early, when the French soldiers were still in the city. . The French took a gruesome revenge for this, by heavily looting the city on November 24 and murdering many civilians. In this massacre, known as the Woerden Disaster, 28 civilians were killed and 37 injured.

In 1855 Woerden is connected to the Dutch rail network. The fortress status of Woerden was lifted in 1874, but the Defense Island was used by the Ministry of War until 1999. The cheese market was established in 1885. Woerden then lost all military significance, so that in the period 1883-1912 the ramparts and walls could be demolished. However, the waterworks still remain in the Woerden townscape. The Catholics come all the way back to the city and build the Bonaventura church in 1892 and a monastery in 1899.


In 1950, three camps were set up in Woerden to receive about 600 Moluccans. This led to the "flag incident" in which civil servants took down the Moluccan flag, which was hanging next to the Dutch flag, which was seen as undesirable, and dragged it over the ground. Riots loomed, but they were appeased. The Moluccans were unable to return to Indonesia and stayed in the Netherlands. The last camp in Woerden was demolished in 1967.

In 1960/61 the Oude Rijn was filled in, which until then flowed through the Rijnstraat.

In the following years the city grew and large expansions were made on all sides, including archaeological finds. In 1978 the first of 6 Roman and medieval ships was found in Woerden. In 2003, the last Roman cargo ship was found during the construction of a parking garage. In 2012 a spatha was found, a Frankish sword from the 8th century decorated with silver thread and measuring 90 cm in length.


Municipal reorganisations

From 1814 to 1989 Woerden was part of the province of South Holland.

The municipality of Woerden originated from the original city of Woerden, to which various municipal reorganisations have been added:
in 1964 (parts of) the municipalities of Barwoutswaarder, Rietveld and Waarder
in 1989 most of the municipality of Kamerik (created in 1857 from the municipalities of Kamerik and de Houtdijken, Kamerik Mijzijde, 's-Gravesloot, Teckop), the municipality of Zegveld and a small part of the municipality of Nieuwkoop. On the occasion of this reorganization, in which Woerden also became part of the province of Utrecht, the Woerden Redeployment Monument was erected.
in 2001 the municipality of Harmelen, with the additions of the municipalities Indijk (1820), Gerverscop (1857) and part of Veldhuizen (1954).

On October 29, 2009, the municipal council of Woerden unanimously expressed a positive attitude towards joining Kockengen with the municipality of Woerden, following a referendum in Kockengen, in which a large part of the population voted in favor of joining Woerden. Nevertheless, since 1 January 2011, Kockengen has been part of the municipality of Stichtse Vecht, like the rest of the former municipality of Breukelen. The Minister of the Interior stated that he only wanted to talk about the division of Kockengen when Woerden himself would also become involved in a reorganization.



Woerden is located in the east of the Green Heart of Holland, the green zone enclosed by the Randstad. Outside the buildings, Woerden consists largely of meadows and fields. The municipality of Woerden is surrounded by the municipalities (clockwise, start north) De Ronde Venen, Stichtse Vecht, Utrecht, Montfoort, Oudewater, Bodegraven-Reeuwijk and Nieuwkoop.