Zutphen’s extensive history is evident in the hundreds of monuments in the city center and its periphery. With 365 monuments located in the center itself, and more than 450 national monuments and 500 municipal monuments in the immediate area, a visit to Zutphen should be high on the list for anyone who’d like to experience a glimpse of the past.
Some interesting facts:
- Zutphen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Archaeological remains found in the area date back to 500 B.C., and the region has been continuously inhabited for over seventeen hundred years.
- The origins of the current city can be traced back to the 9th century when it was inhabited by the Franks. A ringed wall was constructed in 890. Parts of these defensive fortifications are still standing in the city today.
- It is believed that German emperors resided in Zutphen for a short period of time in the 11th century. Although their palace no longer exists, archaeological excavations in the city’s center show proof of a 173x 41.5-foot building matching the style of German royalty at the time.
- The city was granted city rights in the 1190s, making it one of the first cities in the Netherlands to obtain these rights and institute its own government, court, and private market.
- A number of devastating fires swept through the city during the 13th century. Because many houses were made of wood, reconstruction was required. Many of those reconstructed houses are now among the largest and best-preserved medieval houses in the Netherlands.
- De Librije, a medieval library inside St. Walburgis Church in the 16th century is one of only five ‘chain libraries’ left in the world, where books are chained to their reading pews to prevent them from being stolen. The library has 85 books printed in the 15th century and around 500 from the 16th century.
- The tower of imposing St. Walburgis Church was rebuilt after a fire in 1948. Four great bells were put inside the new construction and named after the four princesses of the Netherlands (Beatrix, Irene, Margriet and Christina).
For more details about Zutphen and its many historic sites, read our Travel feature in Issue 22 of Dutch the magazine.
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