Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Zwolle is a municipality and the capital city of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, 50 miles northeast of Amsterdam. Zwolle has about 111,000 citizens and is one of the most important cities in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
Archaeological finds indicate that the area surrounding Zwolle was already inhabited by the ancient Germanic Isala tribe around 1500 B.C. The modern city was founded around 800 A.D. by Frisian merchants and troops of Charlemagne. The name Zwolle comes from the word Suolle, which means "hill". Zwolle was founded on a hill between the three rivers surrounding the city, IJssel, Vecht, and Zwarte Water. The hill was the only piece of land that would remain dry during the frequent floodings of the rivers. The oldest known written mention of Zwolle is from 1040.
A document mentions the existence of a parish church dedicated to St Michael. That church, the Grote of Sint MichaŽlskerk, was renovated in the first half of the 15th century and exists to this day. The church contains a richly carved pulpit, the work of Adam Straes van Weilborch (about 1620), some good carving and an exquisite organ (1721).
On August 31 1230, the bishop of Utrecht granted Zwolle city rights. In July 1324 and in October 1361, regional noblemen set fire to Zwolle. In the 1324 fire, only 9 buildings escaped the flames. Zwolle's golden age came in the 15th century. Zwolle was an important member of the Hanseatic league and one of the most important cities in the north and east of the Netherlands. Between 1402 and 1450, the city's GDP multiplied by about 6.
Zwolle was also, with Deventer, one of the centers of the Brethren of the Common Life, a monastic movement. Three miles from Zwolle, on a slight eminence called the Agnietenberg, (hill of St Agnes), once stood the Augustinian convent in which Thomas ŗ Kempis spent the greatest part of his life and died (in 1471).
At least as early as 1911, Zwolle had a considerable trade by river, a large fish market, and the most important cattle market in The Netherlands after Rotterdam. The more important industries comprised cotton manufactures, iron works, boat-building, dyeing and bleaching, tanning, rope-making, and salt-making.
Citizens of Zwolle are colloquially known as Blauwvingers (Bluefingers). This dates back to the rivalry with neighbouring city Kampen. When the local government was strapped for cash, they saw no option but to sell church bells to Kampen. To make sure Kampen did not make too much profit from the deal, the local authorities asked a high price for the church bells. Kampen agreed to the deal, on the condition that they could choose their own way of paying for the church bells. Zwolle consented, and Kampen paid in copper money. Because of their distrust, Zwolle wanted to be sure Kampen had truly paid the entire price. The local authorities therefore counted the money until they were blue in the fingers.
Besides the Grote of Sint MichaŽlskerk, there are several other historic monuments in Zwolle. The Roman Catholic Onze Lieve Vrouwe ten Hemelopneming-basilica (Our Lady Ascension) dates back to 1399. The church tower, called Peperbus (pepperbox), is one of the tallest and most famous church towers in the Netherlands. The modernized town hall was originally built in 1448. Mention should also be made of the Sassenpoort (one of the old city gates), the city walls, the Mosterdmakerstoren (the complex where local mustard used to be made), a guild-house (1571), the former provincial government offices, a Dominican monastery, and a museum of antiquities and natural history.
Zwolle has spawned several famous people, such as politicians Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Poll (1741–1784), Johan Rudolf Thorbecke (1798–1872) and current Minister of Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst; authors Rhijnvis Feith (1753–1824), Everardus Potgieter (1808–1875) and A. den Doolaard (1901–1994); painter Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681); painter/rock star Herman Brood (1946–2001); rap crew Opgezwolle ; pianist Jan Vayne ; photographer Jan Boertien ; and many others.
Zwolle is located on or near three rivers (Zwarte Water, Vecht, and IJssel), three canals (the now disused Willemsvaart and Overijssels Kanaal canals and the modern Zwolle-IJssel Canal ). As for transportation by land, there are several important motorways (A28, A50, and, perhaps in the future, A35) and rail connections in seven directions (viz. Kampen, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Emmen, Almelo, Deventer/Arnhem, and Amersfoort).
- Detailed Falkplan map
- Other detailed map, covering a larger area
- Some more images on Wikimedia Commons
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