7 May 2006
history of my home town Amersfoort
Origins of Amersfoort
name 'Amersfoort' (Pronunciation:
[ä´mursfOrt] <) derives from 'foort' or 'voorde'
(cf. English 'ford') and 'Amer' (i.e. the Eem river, or water in general).
Thanks to it favourable location, both on the water router (over the Eem
river to the Zuiderzee) and land route (from Utrecht Eastward
and Northward) the agricultural settlement developed into a small town,
which in 1259 was granted city rights by the Bishop of Utrecht.
The city had two centres: het Havik, first mentioned in 1390,(which
could come from "bend in a river" or "habour area")
and de Hof (the Court and first mentioned in 1462). Het Havik
was the city's port and its business centre. De Hof, prior to
the granting of city rights, was the location of the residence of the
Bishop's representatives and the city church, the St. Joriskerk
(the Church of St. George). In 1132 there is a chapel mentioned, which
later would become the St. Joriskerk (1243 the built was started and in
1534 it would become the church that it is now).
The whole city was walled, orginally by an earthen wall, later by a stone
wall. Some remains can still be seen. For instance, in the Langestraat
(Lit.: the Longstreet) we find the remains of the Kamperbinnenpoort
(The Innergate to Kampen, a city in the nothern part of Holland) and on
the Muurhuizen (wallhouses) we see the remains of the Plompetoren,
also know as the Dieventoren (lit: Thieves Tower, refering to
the city jail located here [first mentioned as a prison in 1434] in the
19th century, last used in 1862).
is the city named 'Keistad'?
is called 'Keistad' (lit.:Rocktown or Bouldercity), a name
we 'earned' in the 17th century, not because we invented Rock&Roll
as a dance, but because of a wager a crazy country squire ('Jonkheer')
named Everard Meyster because he wanted to celibrate his new house.
He made a bet with some friends that he could talk the people of
Amersfoort into dragging a large boulder, a stone that was deposited
on Soester Moor by a glacier, weighting 9 tons, to the
city. Four hundred Amersfoorters signed up for this feat. The boulder
was pulled into the city over cannon balls. The squire won his wager
and grandly spent the 3000 guilders on beer and salty pretzels.
This all took place in 1661 but because other cities started to
make fun of this event, the Amersfoorters burried the boulder in
1672 secretly in the hope the other cities would forget the event
taken place. In 1903 we dug up the boulder again and gave it a prominent
place in the city.
The inhabitants of the city are still called 'keientrekkers'
(lit.: Boulder towers)
of the historical city
Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren (The Steeple of Our Lady), towering
100 meters above the city, was completed around 1480. The Steeple
and the small spire symbolise the Holy Mother and Child.
The occasion for building the tower was the legendof a wooden figurine
of the Holy Mary, that in the early Middle Ages was thrown into
one of the canals of Amersfoort. When it was found a short while
later, a number of miracles took place. For instance, candles would
burn without being consumed. These miracles gave rise to pilgrimages
to Amersfoort - and an economic boom for the city to boot.
front of the Steeple there is an X/Y marking showing the exact
centre of the Netherlands.
was 2nd of august 1787, the church was used to store gun powder.
You now can imagine what happened with the church that kept us
left with only the tower. 400 grenats, one bomb and 2 barrels
of gunpowder exploded.
gravure from the tower but with church)
Koppelpoort dates from before 1427. This is a water and land
gate which connects to the Eem river and also makes it possible
to sluice water out of the canals.
The 15th century expansion can be distinguished here. This gate
is part of the second defesive belt that was built after the original
ring of walls had become too small for the growing city. The course
of the river was diverted and a port was built. The gate was built
to span the new course of the river. By aid of a great wooden
wheel a huge wooden door could be lowered and so close off the
city. The small rooms in the towers originally were intended for
the guards. Later, the boatmen's guild were established here.
Today, the tower is the home of a puppet theatre.
is a small detail, located to the left of De Koppelpoort,
of the part that is used to control the water level in the
canals in the city and to refresh the water.
few from the site of 't kleine Spui of the Koppelpoort.
Over the water gate there is a small bridge, which gives
you a perfect few over the canal.
summer it is a great place to sit and enjoy the view
Inside the Koppelpoort there is a tredmill operated by
people to lower and raise the gate
land gate of the Koppelpoort. On the outside, the proud
land gate bears the Great Seal of the city. The old doors that were
used to close the land gate are gone, but when you take a close
look in the gate itself, you can imagine that they must have been
Kamperbinnenpoort dates back to before 1425. This gate was
part of the first defensive belt built by Amersfoort. Later, the city
expanded and a second, lager belt was built around the city. Originally,
fish was brought at this gate to the city. The section now located
at the Langestraat is only a part of the original mediaeval building.
In the rooms under the gate, the guilds used to hold their meetings.
In the alcoves on and under the galleries, artisans had their shops.
The gate was restored in 1933. The additions date from that time.
pub De Grote Slok (lit.: The Great Gulp) dates back to the
early 17th century and was restored in 1943.
is the Kapelhuis or Chapel House, on Krankeledenstraat
on the corner of the Lieve Vrouwe-Kerkhof. This
house was built around 1500. Its Gothic chracteristics
are still evident. This building is, what I believe, one
of the most beautiful and authentic houses in the city.
Oude stadsmuur or Old city wall. New military tactics made
the old defensive works superflous. The old wall felt into decline
and were partly taken down. This is how they look today. In front
how it was at the end of the last century and at the back a restored
part of the wall.
Tinnenburg, one of the historic houses (first mentioned
in 1414) on the Muurhuizen. Several guilds were housed
in this building.
This is a view of the Tinnenburg from Singel. The Singel was the
original defensive moat around Amersfoort. Remains of the old
water gate still are evident on the side wall of the building.
On the right the backview of Tinnenburg and below the frontview
Muurhuizen, or wall houses, are typical for Amersfoort.
These houses were built on the location of the first original
defense ring around the city.This belt was broken down when
a second, wider belt was erected around Amersfoort. The
stones were used to build houses.
Watch towers were built at regular intervals to defend the
city walls and Amersfoort itself. A few of these small towers
have survived in the 'wall houses'. The original brick walls
were plastered in the last century. In some places this
plaster layers survives to this day.
Monnikendam (first mentioned in 1434), had to be built
after the expansion of the defensive belt around Amersfoort. The
original gate at Tinnenburg on the Muurhuizen,
thus became superfluous. The water from the river Eem flowed past
this water gate into the city.
The water gate has two defensive towers, used in time of hostilities.