Amersfoort in the Netherlands is a 750 plus year old city with a rich history. While it is growing rather fast it still retains much of its medieval roots. Located in the central part of the country, it is the second largest city in Utrecht province. As mentioned above, the city has a rich history and it goes back a very long way.
How far back you may be wondering? Well, try the Mesolithic era. Indeed, traces of camps dating back that far have been discovered by archaeologists. As far as city rights though, those were granted in 1259 by Utrecht’s bishop. In 1300 the city of Amersfoort put up a brick-built defensive wall.
One thing that is remarkable about the inner part of the city is the fact that is has been very well preserved since the time of the Middle Ages. Not surprisingly, many of the buildings and monuments in Amersfoort have been declared national monuments. Like many other areas of the Netherlands, Amersfoort for a time was a hotbed of textile production and brewing. For a time in the 18th century it was even a major tobacco producer.
Amersfoort subsequently went through its share of ups and mostly downs. However, in 1970 the government of the Netherlands declared it to be a growth city. This has led to a doubling of the city’s population to its current level of 140,000 to 150,000.
As with the rest of the country, and in part due to its neighboring Germany, Amersfoort was greatly impacted by World War II. Seeing as to how it was the biggest garrison town in the country prior to the war, the entire population, which at the time numbered approximately 43,000, was cleared out of the city ahead of Germany’s expected invasion in May of 1940. However they were allowed to return four days later.
There were in the area of 700 Jews in the city at the outset of the war, with half of them being deported and subsequently killed. Additionally, their 200 plus year old synagogue was badly damaged on orders from the city government which was under Nazi control.
Today Amersfoort is a very attractive place, both for tourists as well as those looking to make a home there. It is also one of the most powerful areas in Europe in terms of economy. Unemployment is quite low and there is a strong job base with well paying positions favoring those with higher education.