History

It took hundreds of years for the city of Nijkerk to be as it is today. People have been living and working in Nijkerk for years. The city is rich in history, part of which has remained visible.

Did you know that the city owes its name to a newly built church? The previous chapel that stood there, was hit by a peat fire. Because of the new church, the city was given the name Nije Kerck, a name in the then dialect.

Nijkerk is rightfully ‘a city’. In 1413 Nijkerk received city rights (by the Duke of Gelre), because the city was often destroyed by fighting. In the 18th century, Nijkerk was a thriving city with tobacco trade and industry. This can still be seen in the beautiful historic center.

Nijkerk, a city with a rich history, is situated on the edge of the Northwest Veluwe and the Gelderse Vallei, on the border of construction and pasture land, near woods, heathland and Nijkerkernauw. Evangelical preacher Ludger traveled around this region and built a house of God in a place where pagan sacrifices would have been made before.

It seems that a chapel was already founded in the city at that time, which was later hit by a peat fire. Afterwards, a new church was built, to which Nijkerk owes its name. In the then dialect, the name was Nije Kerck.

At that time Nijkerk was unprotected against the former Zuiderzee. Therefore, higher land has been built to protect the city. That piece of land was given the name Erckemede, which we now know as Arkemheen.

The central location between the Archdiocese of Utrecht and the Duchy of Gelre meant that Nijkerk was regularly a battlefield. In 1412 the village was completely destroyed. As compensation, Duke Reinolt IV of Gelre gave Nijkerk city rights and exemption from tolls in Gelre. A moat with gates and dikes was built around the city, because there was not enough money for a wall.

After that, Nijkerk flourished. The city flourished and developed into an important center of the Northwest Veluwe. They began to grow a lot of tobacco. There was also a lively trade, especially with Amsterdam. In 1795, Nijkerk was even the largest city in the Veluwe. Within the total province of Gelderland, only Arnhem was a larger city. The flourishing of Nijkerk can still be seen in the many mansions in the current city center. Nijkerk also had a large regional cattle market, which made the city of great importance for the agricultural hinterland for many years. Farmers’ Monday is another reminder of this, and is held every April.

Many citizens of Nijkerk left for America to try their luck there. They co-founded the cities of New York, Albany and some others. In the Grote Kerk of Nijkerk, you can find the gravestone of the van Rensselaer family. Kilean Rensselaer was one of the founders of New York.

During the Second World War, Nijkerk was damaged twice. In may 1940, the city was shelled by the Dutch army in the fight against the German occupiers. In 1945 the city was shelled again, then by the Canadians. Immediately after the war, the city started its recovery. New industries were attracted. Much attention was paid to vocational education. Developments in inland shipping made the construction of a larger lock necessary. After years of preparations, the new lock was officially opened in 1987.

The city and region continued to develop. The region was easily accessible by the Amersfoort-Zwolle highway. It also became an attractive region due to the construction of the recreation area “Nieuw-Hulckesteijn”, the Arkersluis and the Flevopolder. More and more residents of the Randstad moved to Nijkerk. This changed the character of the city and region.

Nijkerk has expanded considerably and continues to expand. The residential areas of Corlaer, Groot Corlaer and the recently built Doornsteeg, among other things, are causing significant growth in the municipality.

Nijkerk now has more than 42,000 inhabitants.

 

Historical photos: Collection Museum Nijkerk.

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