Woudrichem

 

Woudrichem is an old fortified town on the Merwede in the province of Noord-Brabant in the Land van Heusden and Altena, in the municipality of Altena. Woudrichem has more than 4000 inhabitants. It was also a former municipality before it merged into the municipality of Altena.

 

Location and parts
Woudrichem is located in the north of the Land van Altena at the mouth of the Afgedamde Maas in the Waal. These two rivers then flow together as the Boven-Merwede. This confluence is also the "three provinces point" where the borders between the provinces of South Holland, North Brabant and Gelderland come together.

De Afgedamde Maas is located on the east side of the town, with Slot Loevestein on the other side, in the neighboring municipality of Zaltbommel. The Boven-Merwede flows on the north side along Woudrichem. On the other side is Gorinchem, the largest city in the area.

Within the municipality of Altena, on the left bank of the rivers, Woudrichem lies between Sleeuwijk and Rijswijk. Other nearby villages are Giessen and Almkerk and a little further away Nieuwendijk and Werkendam.

The city of Woudrichem consists of two parts: the old fortress in the north ("Woudrichem within the fortress") and the suburb to the southwest of it ("Woudrichem outside the fortress"). That newer part is a lot bigger and more people live there. Together, about 4200 people live in these parts on about 1.3 km².

Postal and for the statistical division of the Netherlands, the hamlet of Oudendijk and the rural area on the west and south side are also included in the residence of Woudrichem. At the beginning of 2020, the population of the total area was 4,680 in an area of ​​approximately 7.6 km². After the municipal reorganization in 2019, the boundaries of the statistical sub-areas of the residence Woudrichem have changed slightly. The northern part of the newer residential area has been merged with the fortress into "Woudrichem-Noord", while the total area including rural areas became slightly smaller (from 7.68 km² to 7.55 km²).


History
Woudrichem originated in the ninth century. A market place was created on a bank wall, where the Hoogstraat and the Molenstraat are now located. Around the year 1000, a number of settlements appeared, mostly north of the Alm, that were oriented towards Woudrichem. Initially, the Maas did not flow past Woudrichem. The main stream of this river first flowed approximately through the bed of the current Bergsche Maas, later the Alm was the main stream, and later the current Afgedamde Maas, until the Bergsche Maas was dug in 1904.

Woudrichem was strategically located at the confluence of Maas and Waal in the sphere of influence of the Duchy of Brabant, Gelre and the County of Holland. In 1322, the Land van Altena was added to the County of Holland, only to be classified in 1815 in the newly formed province of Noord-Brabant.

In the fourteenth century the city had grown to such an extent that the Lord of Altena, Willem VII van Horne, granted city rights to Woudrichem in 1356. In the same year, the count of Holland moved the count's river toll from No Man's Friend, located in Sliedrecht, to Woudrichem. This and other privileges, such as the fishing rights from 1362 - granted by Dirk Loef van Horne, builder of Loevestein Castle - the place flourished.

The Martinuskerk was also built during this time. Construction of the city wall began in 1386. It was in this year that the Count of Holland took over the Land of Altena. Negotiations between John IV of Brabant and John VI of Bavaria led to the Zoen van Woudrichem (1419). After this, the economy began to wane, when in 1420 the toll was transferred to Gorinchem and in 1421 the Saint Elisabeth flood wiped out. The situation deteriorated further, partly due to military activities.

Due to its strategic location, Woudrichem was regularly besieged. For example, the city was raided by the Arkelsen in 1405 and by the Geldersen in 1511. In 1572, Woudrichem sided with William of Orange. In 1573, the Geuzen thought the city was indefensible and set it on fire. Between 1583 and 1588 a fortress belt was built around the city, which, however, enclosed a smaller area than the former city wall. The fortress was designed by Adriaen Antonisz. from Alkmaar. The town was rebuilt with the help of surrounding towns. Nevertheless, the economic situation remained poor and in 1700 Woudrichem was therefore exempt from taxes.

In 1814 Woudrichem was included in the New Dutch Waterline. From now on, it was no longer allowed to build in the vicinity of the city and in 1815 a lock was built in the dyke through which the surrounding land could be inundated. It was not until 1926 that the provisions were relaxed and the fortress was not closed until 1955. This created the opportunity to build residential areas outside the ramparts. The historic city center has been restored since 1971. This center is classified as a protected cityscape.

 

Location and parts
Woudrichem is located in the north of the Land van Altena at the mouth of the Afgedamde Maas in the Waal. These two rivers then flow together as the Boven-Merwede. This confluence is also the "three provinces point" where the borders between the provinces of South Holland, North Brabant and Gelderland come together.

De Afgedamde Maas is located on the east side of the town, with Slot Loevestein on the other side, in the neighboring municipality of Zaltbommel. The Boven-Merwede flows on the north side along Woudrichem. On the other side is Gorinchem, the largest city in the area.

Within the municipality of Altena, on the left bank of the rivers, Woudrichem lies between Sleeuwijk and Rijswijk. Other nearby villages are Giessen and Almkerk and a little further away Nieuwendijk and Werkendam.

The city of Woudrichem consists of two parts: the old fortress in the north ("Woudrichem within the fortress") and the suburb to the southwest of it ("Woudrichem outside the fortress"). That newer part is a lot bigger and more people live there. Together, about 4200 people live in these parts on about 1.3 km².

Postal and for the statistical division of the Netherlands, the hamlet of Oudendijk and the rural area on the west and south side are also included in the residence of Woudrichem. At the beginning of 2020, the population of the total area was 4,680 in an area of ​​approximately 7.6 km². After the municipal reorganization in 2019, the boundaries of the statistical sub-areas of the residence Woudrichem have changed slightly. The northern part of the newer residential area has been merged with the fortress into "Woudrichem-Noord", while the total area including rural areas became slightly smaller (from 7.68 km² to 7.55 km²).


History
Woudrichem originated in the ninth century. A market place was created on a bank wall, where the Hoogstraat and the Molenstraat are now located. Around the year 1000, a number of settlements appeared, mostly north of the Alm, that were oriented towards Woudrichem. Initially, the Maas did not flow past Woudrichem. The main stream of this river first flowed approximately through the bed of the current Bergsche Maas, later the Alm was the main stream, and later the current Afgedamde Maas, until the Bergsche Maas was dug in 1904.

Woudrichem was strategically located at the confluence of Maas and Waal in the sphere of influence of the Duchy of Brabant, Gelre and the County of Holland. In 1322, the Land van Altena was added to the County of Holland, only to be classified in 1815 in the newly formed province of Noord-Brabant.

In the fourteenth century the city had grown to such an extent that the Lord of Altena, Willem VII van Horne, granted city rights to Woudrichem in 1356. In the same year, the count of Holland moved the count's river toll from No Man's Friend, located in Sliedrecht, to Woudrichem. This and other privileges, such as the fishing rights from 1362 - granted by Dirk Loef van Horne, builder of Loevestein Castle - the place flourished.

The Martinuskerk was also built during this time. Construction of the city wall began in 1386. It was in this year that the Count of Holland took over the Land of Altena. Negotiations between John IV of Brabant and John VI of Bavaria led to the Zoen van Woudrichem (1419). After this, the economy began to wane, when in 1420 the toll was transferred to Gorinchem and in 1421 the Saint Elisabeth flood wiped out. The situation deteriorated further, partly due to military activities.

Due to its strategic location, Woudrichem was regularly besieged. For example, the city was raided by the Arkelsen in 1405 and by the Geldersen in 1511. In 1572, Woudrichem sided with William of Orange. In 1573, the Geuzen thought the city was indefensible and set it on fire. Between 1583 and 1588 a fortress belt was built around the city, which, however, enclosed a smaller area than the former city wall. The fortress was designed by Adriaen Antonisz. from Alkmaar. The town was rebuilt with the help of surrounding towns. Nevertheless, the economic situation remained poor and in 1700 Woudrichem was therefore exempt from taxes.

In 1814 Woudrichem was included in the New Dutch Waterline. From now on, it was no longer allowed to build in the vicinity of the city and in 1815 a lock was built in the dyke through which the surrounding land could be inundated. It was not until 1926 that the provisions were relaxed and the fortress was not closed until 1955. This created the opportunity to build residential areas outside the ramparts. The historic city center has been restored since 1971. This center is classified as a protected cityscape.

In 2006 Woudrichem celebrated 650 years of city rights. In the fortress, during a weekend in August, residents who dressed up performed all kinds of scenes from the past centuries.

Until January 2019 it was the capital of the eponymous municipality.

 

Sights
The old part of Woudrichem is well worth seeing as a historic fortified town in its entirety and is recognized as a protected village area. The main monuments are:

Gothic Martinus Church in the old town, whose richly sculpted square tower is nicknamed the Mustard Pot.
Johannes Nepomukkerk, a water management church from 1838, on the Vissersdijk.
Prison gate, from around 1580.
Stellingmolen Nooit Gedagt, in use as a flour mill, rebuilt in 1990-1996.
Fortifications according to the Old Dutch fortification system, from 1580 onwards.
Several 19th century military warehouses and two armories from 1851.
The Old Town Hall, a building with a gable roof between stepped gables, at Hoogstraat 47. The facade bears the year 1592. The building was restored in 1957.
Various houses, including a number of houses with a Dordtse facade such as In de Salamander (1609), In den gulden Engel (1593), In 't Hert (1601) and In den gulden Helm (1601). House Jacoba van Bavaria at Molenstraat 6-8. Also a facing stone with the rhyme: That time is cort, That death is quick, Beware of probes, So do ghy well. Most of these houses are located on Hoogstraat and Kerkstraat.
Hard stone village pump on the Hoogstraat.

Museums
Fishery Museum Woudrichem, in the Arsenaal.