Located in the west of the Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, is the town of Zoetermeer. The name of this city literally means “Sweet Lake.” However, if you visit Zoetermeer today, you will not find the body of water that gave this beautiful city its name. The lake was actually reclaimed in 1614, but the name of the city remained.
The city remained rather small population wise until as late as the 1950’s. Today it has a population in excess of 120,000 people. This growth made Zoetermeer the third largest populated city in South Holland.
History of Zoetemeer
Though the city now consists of a land area of 37 square kilometers, Zoetermeer was actually founded as a small fishing village on the banks of the lake that would give it its name as early as 1000 AD. It was this little fishing village that would provide the nucleus for the city that exists today.
As the city progressed, it was discovered that the peat moss surrounding the village was an excellent source of fuel. This resulted an economic boom, but also created the problem of over-harvesting, leading to the creation of many smaller lakes surrounding the village. The process of reclaiming the land was deemed necessary for the safety of the homes and structures and was finished by the 19th century.
Additional growth took place starting in 1868 when the first rail service came to the city. Then in 1935, the two sections, which made up the city, were joined into one municipality, creating the modern city of today.
A City of Ten Villages
The city Zoetermeer is actually made up of ten different villages or neighborhoods within its borders. Each of the cities has a different story and founding date. What makes these neighborhoods unique is that each of them has a small shopping mall and tram stop. Each of the ten neighborhoods also has an individual postal code.
Zoetermeer has the distinction of having the first indoor snow ski slope in Europe. Opened in 1996 SnowWorld is still one of the largest such attractions in the Netherlands and offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities using real snow.
There are also many parks to enjoy and various shopping and entertainment venues. The city maintains its connection with the past. There is still a section called the Old City that retains some of the historical buildings and look of years ago, including a church with a 15th century wooden clock tower and many of the old houses. Zoetermeer is definitely a city looking ahead,while maintaining a link to the past.
If you are looking for city to visit while touring South Holland, we think you will like what you find in Zoetermeer. Whether you are looking to just relax and take in the sites, or enjoy some excitement in the various nightclubs, this is the place. The people are friendly and there is truly something for everyone at this beautiful city in the Netherlands.